The British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa is facing yet more upheaval with organisers understood to be exploring contingency plans amid doubts over the eight-match series taking place as scheduled.
The Lions are due to fly to Johannesburg on Sunday night when the South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce stricter lockdown measures as Covid-19 rates surge in the host country. Compounding matters, the entire Springboks squad has been forced into isolation following three positive cases.
Starting on Saturday, the Lions are due to play their first three matches – and the last two Tests – in the Gauteng region of South Africa which has been badly hit by Covid-19. Relocating matches could be a possibility but the expected disruption, with South Africa gripped by a third Covid-19 wave, has raised further questions over whether the tour should be taking place at all.
After Saturday’s comfortable victory in the warm-up match over Japan – in which the Lions lost their tour captain Alun Wyn Jones to injury with Conor Murray announced as the surprise replacement – Warren Gatland insisted that the Lions have received assurances that they will be able to train and prepare for their eight-match tour as planned in South Africa. “We have had assurances that if they do go into another lockdown or cancel sport, that it won’t affect the Lions in terms of training, preparation and the matches,” said Gatland.
It is understood, however, that the Lions are…