Warren Gatland’s side will face the world champion Springboks at the 88,000 FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday July 24 in the first test. A week later they will face South Africa at the Cape Town Stadium with the final test to be played at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday August 7.
The combined capacity for the three Test venues is just below 205,000, which could make the three Tests on the 2021 tour the best-attended since professionalism, potentially surpassing the 192,972 people who attended the three Tests in Australia in 2013.
The eight-game schedule includes six weekend fixtures; three against Vodacom Super Rugby teams the Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers, and two midweek fixtures against an invitational side in Port Elizabeth and South Africa ‘A’ in Nelspruit.
“I am absolutely thrilled with how this schedule looks,” said Gatland, whose Lions beat Australia in 2013 and drew the series with New Zealand in 2017. “Touring South Africa is always a huge challenge, not only from a rugby perspective, but also in terms of the venues and the conditions facing the players.
“We are very comfortable that three of the games, two of which are Test matches, will be played at altitude. Our schedule falls in a way to allow us to start at sea level before building up and acclimatising to the unique environment that playing at altitude presents.
“Ensuring the team are absolutely primed for the Test matches is a critical element of any Lions Tour, and I am confident the quality of opposition we will face in the opening weeks will get us ready to take on the Springboks.” The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891.
In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight and drew one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six. Rassie Erasmus, South Africa Director of Rugby, said the keenly-awaited Tour was a once-in-a-lifetime playing opportunity for South African players.
“There are players who have been to three Rugby World Cups an finished their careers with a winner’s medal yet never got to play against the Lions,” said Erasmus. “They only come around every 12 years for our players and only a few of them ever have the privilege of wearing the Springbok jersey in a Lions series.
“The Lions have not lost a series since they were last here a decade ago and they will present a next-level challenge in 18 months’ time. Warren Gatland is a massively experienced and astute coach with a phenomenal record with the Lions and the rugby experience for our players and public will rival that of a Rugby World Cup.
“The Lions performed extremely well on their previous two tours [in Australia and New Zealand] and will no doubt relish the opportunity to add the Springboks’ scalp to their belt.”
British & Irish Lions fixtures
July 3 – DHL Stormers v British & Irish Lions
July 7 – South Africa Invitational v British & Irish Lions
July 10 – Cell C Sharks v British & Irish Lions
July 14 – South Africa A v British & Irish Lions
July 17 – Vodacom Blue Bulls v British & Irish Lions
July 24 – South Africa v British & Irish Lions
July 31 – South Africa v British & Irish Lions
August 7 – South Africa v British & Irish Lions