British & Irish Lions: The South Africa Tour explained

The Lions will head to South Africa for a six week tour, including three test matches against the Springboks Credit: PA

The British & Irish Lions are currently in Jersey for a training camp to prepare for their summer tour in South Africa.

At the end of their training camp, the Lions will fly to Edinburgh where they will play Japan in a pre-tour warm up match at Murrayfield, before heading to Johannesburg to commence their six-week campaign - culminating in a test clash against the Springboks.

The full tour will be played in the province of Gauteng, to reduce the need for travel for the squad and to minimise the risk of disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who are the British & Irish Lions?

Warren Gatland will be the Lions' head coach for a third consecutive tour. Credit: PA

The British & Irish Lions brings together the best players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The iconic red jersey is one of the most recognisable in global sport.

Warren Gatland has picked this year's squad, having been named head coach of a Lions tour for the third consecutive time.

A full rundown of the players training in Jersey is available to view here.

What is the South Africa Tour?

The Lions take on a tour every four years, on a rotation between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. They are fiercely contested and are known for producing some of the most memorable moments in international rugby.

The tours sees them face some of the giants of world rugby in a test-match format. Often the lead up to this is preceded by matches against some of the host country's biggest clubs.

Most recently, the Lions toured in New Zealand in 2017. After defeat in their opening test against the All Blacks, Gatland's side fought back to secure a win in the second match. Ultimately, the close-fought battle ended in a draw as the final test ended 15-15.

Who will the Lions play?

The finale of the Lions Tour will take place at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium. Credit: PA Images

Warren Gatland's side will come up against one of the sport's true heavyweights. The reigning world champions, the Springboks - South Africa's national team- and they are currently the top side in world rugby. Of the 46 times they have played against the Lions, they have taken wins in half of those games.

There will be three test matches between the sides:

  • First test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 24 July, Cape Town

  • Second test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 31 July, Johannesburg)

  • Third test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Sunday 8 August, Johannesburg)

In the run up to the test matches, the Lions will also face off against other teams from across South Africa.

  • Emirates Lions v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 3 July, Johannesburg)

  • Cell C Sharks v British & Irish Lions (Wednesday 7 July, Johannesburg)

  • Vodacom Bulls v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 10 July, Pretoria)

  • South Africa ‘A’ v British & Irish Lions (Wednesday 14 July, Cape Town)

  • DHL Stormers v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 17 July, Cape Town)

Will the matches be played in front of fans?

It is not yet clear if coronavirus restrictions will allow fans to attend the matches. Currently, it is planned that the games will take place behind closed doors.

Covid-secure bubbles will be in place to protect both teams and their staff during the tour.The Lions have answers to some frequently asked questions on their website for those who may have already made bookings for the fixtures.