Confirmed: B&I Lions to face Sharks again

The British & Irish Lions will play back-to-back matches against the Sharks after Saturday’s encounter with the Bulls had to be called off, it was announced on Thursday.

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As first reported by this website earlier on Thursday, SA Rugby and the Lions have agreed to replace the Bulls with the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off 6pm SAT, 5pm BST), after the former was ruled out because of Covid-19 infections.

The Lions beat the Sharks 54-7 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday in the second match of the Lions series. The tourists had opened their account at the same venue with a 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions on Saturday.

“The choice of the Cell C Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but Covid-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”

The change has meant that the Cell C Sharks’ match against the Sigma Lions in the Currie Cup on Saturday has been cancelled with a decision on the points allocation to be confirmed.

“We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld,” said Ben Calveley, managing director for the British & Irish Lions.

“We have further Covid-19 testing scheduled for today and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture but, as it stands, we are optimistic. 

“We remain committed to the tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack