The British and Irish Lions will take on the Cell C Sharks in a rematch of Wednesday's warm-up game as a replacement for their cancelled match against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday.
The planned encounter with the Bulls was originally postponed due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases in the hosts' squad, but with the rematch now taking place, it is unlikely that the Bulls will face the tourists this year.
The Lions beat the Sharks 54-7 at Ellis Park on Wednesday in the second match on South African soil in the Castle Lager Lions Series. The tourists had opened their account at the same venue with a 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions on Saturday.
“The Lions are here to play rugby, not sit in bio-secure environments so we have had to be nimble to find a replacement opponent,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“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.
“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 Lions are thankful to be able to schedule their third warm-up match on South African soil, ahead of the much anticipated test series against the world champions, however are wary that the match not take place depending on the results of their next round of PCR testing.
“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."
The Lions had one confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst their players on Wednesday, with a further case in the management team, which saw them forced to make a number of changes late ahead of yesterday's match.
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