Lions Tour Could Still Be Cancelled – Jurie Roux

 

If travel restrictions due to the Covid19 crisis were still in place the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa may not take place next year. SARU's chief executive, Jurie Roux said in an online media briefing yesterday if supporters are not allowed to attend matches the tour will not be "commercially" viable.

The Lions is scheduled to play three tests, two in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, on an eight-match tour from July 3-August 7 next year.

Postponing the tour to next autumn was “highly unlikely” according to Roux because of the already cluttered nature of the global calendar, raising the prospect of a delay until 2022 at the earliest, or even cancelling it entirely.

Lions tours have traditionally been hugely profitable for the host country – the 2017 tour ensured a profit of around R 400m for New Zealand Rugby – while the Lions made R140m. A new business model, with more evenly split revenues, has been introduced for next year’s tour and just last month Vodafone was unveiled as the Lions’ main sponsor in a deal worth upwards of R120m.

With mechanisms in place for supporters who had bought tickets for a refund, if the tour does not take place next year it could be hugely damaging to the finances of both South Africa and the home nations.

“No spectators and an inability for people to travel would commercially not make this viable and there would be a serious reconsideration on how we then continue in terms of the tour,” said Roux, “we are assessing that on a weekly and monthly basis.”

"Travelling for international events will likely still be under more pressure than pre-COVID [In July 2021]," he said.

"No spectators and people not being able to travel would not make this commercially viable and then we would discuss how we continue with the tour.

"There has been some talk of moving it out [to a new date], but our travel advice is that by June/July 2021 we should be at what is deemed to be normal international travel."