British and Irish Lions honchos weigh up options ahead of South Africa tour

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: Ben Calveley (L), British and Irish Lions Managing Director, and Warren Gatland, (R) the newly appointed British and Irish Lions Head Coach speak to media during the British and Irish Lions Head Coach Announcement at London Syon Park Hotel on June 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

British and Irish Lions top officials will continue to hold talks well into February as they decide whether to proceed with this summer’s planned tour to World Cup winners South Africa.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 12: Ben Calveley (L), British and Irish Lions Managing Director, and Warren Gatland, (R) the newly appointed British and Irish Lions Head Coach speak to media during the British and Irish Lions Head Coach Announcement at London Syon Park Hotel on June 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

The first Lions match is scheduled to be played on July 3, but uncertainty shrouds the tour owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released on Saturday, British & Irish Lions managing director Ben Calveley said all options are being explored to facilitate making a final decision on the tour.

Calveley said a quick decision is needed on the tour, to help the thousands of rugby fans who are considering making the trip.

“given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward; not least so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa next summer, or those thinking of making the trip,” Calveley said.

The Lions are set to kick off their Tour on July 3 against the DHL Stormers, before fixtures against SA Invitation XV, Cell C Sharks, South Africa A and Vodacom Bulls.

They then kick off a three-Test series versus Rugby World Champions the Springboks on 24 July.

Calveley said talks are also ongoing with South African Rugby officials to find a way forward.

“To date, the Lions Board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue. It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data. After further consultation with SA Rugby, we will update on the outcome of these meetings in due course,” he said.

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