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British & Irish Lions Tour In Jeopardy

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British & Irish Lions Tour In Jeopardy

As both camps have been hit by Covid outbreaks, uncertainty surrounds the British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

 

Uncertain Tour Schedule

Before embarking on their South African tour, Warren Gatland’s squad were aware they would face a number of unique challenges. However, no one could have foreseen such a disrupted situation occurring so soon. South Africa is currently experiencing a third wave of Covid infections and outbreaks in both the Lions and Springbok camps resulted in them cancelling their weekend games against The Bulls and Georgia, respectively. Rumours continue to grow of moving all remaining games to Cape Town, away from the Covid-hotspot of Gauteng. Reducing travel would lower the chances of further outbreaks and minimise any further disruption to the tour schedule.

The British & Irish Lions’ next game is now scheduled against South Africa A next Wednesday, followed by a match against the Stormers, 3 days later. This is far from ideal preparation for a Test series against the current World Champions. The Lions managing director, Ben Calveley, insists that the tour will continue, despite these latest positive cases. Warren Gatland believes the Tests will happen, but highlighted the difficult circumstances both teams are currently experiencing.

Furthermore, the British & Irish Lions’ tour is also dependent on the Springboks being competitive and able to field their best team. It is difficult to see how this will happen as South Africa have only had one warm up game against Georgia and training twice postponed for the squad to self-isolate. A disjointed Lions against an under-cooked Springbok team inside an empty stadium is hardly the spectacle that will excite rugby fans around the world.

 

Untested Player Combinations

Eight players were removed from the British & Irish Lions’ match-day squad against The Sharks on Wednesday to self-isolate. Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Tadhg Beirne, Conor Murray, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris all missed out on getting vital playing time leading up to the Test series. Warren Gatland will have wanted to give opportunities to all squad members and test out new combinations. With the shortest schedule in Lions history, Gatland will need to find the balance between giving his whole squad playing time and finding the best player combinations.

Injuries disrupted the tour even before it began, especially with Alun Wyn-Jones dislocating his shoulder against Japan. Last night, both Owen Farrell (shoulder) and Louis Rees-Zammit (hamstring) were withdrawn from the action, giving Gatland even more selection headaches.

However, there have been some extremely notable performances to excite Lions fans. The try scoring form of both Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe has been sensational, with them both scoring hat-tricks last night. The midfield combination of Bundee Aki’s power and Elliot Daly’s speed has potential, with Tom Curry and Sam Simmons also standing out in both attack and defence.

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘British & Irish Lions Tour In Jeopardy.’ Who do you think is going to prevail in the Lions/Boks Test series? Should the tour continue? Who should make the Lions starting XV? Let us know you thoughts!

 

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Drew is a lifelong sports fan from Bristol who currently lives and works in Hong Kong. He has a keen interest in football, rugby, cricket, F1 and NFL.

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