British & Irish Lions train in Cape Town
British & Irish Lions train in Cape Town Image Credit: AFP

The entire series between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions will be played in Cape Town due to the COVID-19 risks of playing in Johannesburg.

The three-match series kicks off this Saturday at Cape Town Stadium. Tests two and three on the following Saturdays were scheduled to be at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, but the central Gauteng region its located in is the epicentre of the third wave of coronavirus infections.

“The data pointed in only one direction,” SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said. “The series has already been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and a return to Gauteng at this time would only increase the risks. We now have two teams in biosecure environments without any positive cases or anyone in isolation. To now return to the highveld would expose the series to renewed risk.”

Lions managing director Ben Calveley added, “We are fully supportive of this decision which we believe to be in the best interest of the test series.”

All three Tests will be at Cape Town Stadium on successive Saturdays: July 24 and 31, and August 7.

Gauteng has accounted for nearly 70 per cent of all new cases in the country since the Lions arrived in South Africa on June 28, prompting President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce stricter national restrictions.

The decision to remain in Cape Town followed extensive consultation with medical experts on the risks associated with the delta variant of COVID-19.