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McGeechan calls for Itoje to replace Jones as Lions skipper

Sir Ian McGeechan says England lock Maro Itoje should captain the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2021 instead of Alun Wyn Jones who is ‘no longer a potential starter’.

McGeechan, who played for the Lions and coached them on three tours, believes Jones should be made the midweek captain, with Itoje leading the team in the three Test series against the Boks. Rugby fans can book British lions 2021 tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

‘Itoje is the likely skipper of this Lions party,’ McGeechan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.

‘He was outstandingly influential in [the drawn series with the All Blacks in] 2017, growing with every game and really asserting himself in the biggest games. His game involvement is very high, and his discipline is now excellent.

McGeechan calls for Itoje to replace Jones as Lions skipper

‘When you go to South Africa you have to match their forwards for physicality, and it’s no coincidence that every Lions side to tour South Africa in the past 50 years was captained by second rows – Willie-John McBride in 1974, Bill Beaumont in 1980, Martin Johnson in 1997 and Paul O’Connell in 2009.’

McGeechan said Itoje’s ability and that of ‘so many other potential Lions locks’ to play in the back row should encourage Lions coach Warren Gatland to take six second rows.

‘James Ryan will go, and I really rate the versatile Iain Henderson so would definitely take him, as I would Courtney Lawes, who was brilliant in New Zealand. I’m also a Joe Launchbury fan, while Jonny Gray, Johnny Hill, Scott Cummings, George Kruis and Quinn Roux are also in contention.’

He added that Jones, world rugby’s most capped Test player, should lead the midweek team but not the Test team because he is ‘no longer a potential starter’ in the Test team.

‘He is a born winner and Lions legend, and on such a short tour Warren will desperately need players who can lead by example, especially in training as well as on the field.’

McGeechan calls for Itoje to replace Jones as Lions skipper
McGeechan calls for Itoje to replace Jones as Lions skipper

McGeechan then listed Itoje as one of six players who could have ‘a momentous 2021’ with the Lions.

The others were Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie, Ireland loose forward Caelan Doris, Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell, England centre Ollie Lawrence and Wales’ teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who McGeechan believes ‘has the pace to excel on the hard, fast grounds in South Africa’.

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South Africa’s countdown to B&I Lions tour boosted by Rainbow Cup

Guinness PRO14 to conclude in March ahead of Rainbow Cup; South Africa’s Superteams – Bulls, Lions, Sharks, and Stormers will all be involved in Rainbow Cup; major boost for South Africa ahead of British & Irish Lions tour next year. Rugby fans can book British lions 2021 tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

South Africa’s preparations for the British & Irish Lions tour next year have been given a significant boost after it was confirmed their four major franchises will compete in the Rainbow Cup against PRO14 clubs.

South Africa's countdown to B&I Lions tour boosted by Rainbow Cup
South Africa’s countdown to B&I Lions tour boosted by Rainbow Cup

The competition will get underway on April 17 next year and see the Bulls, Lions, Sharks, and Stormers, who all previously competed in Super Rugby, face teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Italy that will all tour South Africa at some stage in the campaign.

“The timing of the Rainbow Cup is perfect,” director of rugby Rugby Rassie Erasmus said in a media release from South African Rugby on Wednesday.

“It will finally get our Super (Rugby) teams back into international competition after a year’s absence and comes at the ideal time as preparation for the tour by the British & Irish Lions.

“It will be a step-up from the domestic competition and remind our players of the different type of rugby they can expect when the Lions are here.

“Our players will be facing many of the players that will be in Warren Gatland’s squad and it will be very interesting to see how our players adapt to the challenge.”

The Lions are set to tour South Africa for eight matches, the final three of which are tests against the world champion Springboks, from July 3-Aug 7.

South Africa's countdown to B&I Lions tour boosted by Rainbow Cup
South Africa’s countdown to B&I Lions tour boosted by Rainbow Cup

The 16 teams in the Rainbow Cup will be divided into two pools of eight, made up of two Irish, two South African, two Welsh, one Italian, and one Scottish club.

Each team will play one game against each pool opponent and the sides that finish top of their pools will face off in a final on June 19.

According to SA Rugby, negotiations for the South African teams to permanently join PRO14 “remain on-going and an update will be provided at the appropriate time”.

The current PRO14 season concludes with the final on March 27.

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Nkosi knocking on the door for the Lions series

It is becoming increasingly difficult to visualize a Springbok team without Sbu Nkosi in it, writes ANDRE-PIERRE CRONJE.

Nkosi plays rugby with silent ferocity. Other players wear their emotions across their faces but Nkosi looks perpetually stern a picture of intense determination unsmiling, uncompromising and unbelievably talented. Rugby fans can book British lions 2021 tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

In what was, by the Sharks’ standards, a lacklustre affair on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park, Nkosi was the one bright spark. He put in an impressive display both on attack and defense, continuing the rich vein of form that has surely established him as the pre-eminent wing in South Africa.

Nkosi knocking on the door for the Lions series
Nkosi knocking on the door for the Lions series

For the second week in a row he made a superb defensive read to rush up on the opposition outside center and kill an attacking play. Last week it was Stedman Gans he folded like a deck chair; this week it was the turn of Wandisile Simelane. When Nkosi hits you, you stay hit.

Equally impressive were his aerial skills. At times the match descended into a kicking battle but Nkosi acquitted himself admirably in this department, as he has all year. For the second time this season he demonstrated immense skill by taking a ball directly from the kick-off, jumping at full pace, and making a clean break.

With a deft step Nkosi beat the Lions defenders tracking across and was all but under the posts had it not been for a timely (and brave) tackle by fullback Tiaan Swanepoel. And I say brave because meeting Nkosi head-on when he’s moving at that speed is a physical challenge and then some.

When in space Nkosi has the acceleration and footwork to be devastating. When not in space he has the physicality and aggression to make some. It’s a scintillating combination.

Nkosi has had to bide his time. After initially being preferred in 2018, Rassie Erasmus favoured the combination of Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe on the wings for the World Cup. Injury curtailed his Vodacom Super Rugby campaign. Lockdown has provided its own delays. Through it all he’s been patient, but now he looks hungry.

Nkosi knocking on the door for the Lions series

HIGHLIGHTS: Lions vs Sharks

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will need to think carefully about how he balances his back three heading into the British & Irish Lions series next year. With Kolbe probably the best player in the world at the moment, including Nkosi in the side would likely necessitate Mapimpi making way (or Willie Le Roux with Kolbe moving to fullback).

But with Le Roux so integral to the Bok’s attacking shape, and with understudy Warrick Gelant injured, it is more likely that Nkosi is competing directly with Mapimpi for a spot on the wing.

Nkosi, the man with fire in his eyes and a furrow on his brow, has been knocking on the door for some time. Next year he may kick it down.

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DHL announced as logistics partner for Lions series

DHL Express, an international leader in the logistics industry, has been named as one of the official global partners for the 2021 British & Irish Lions series.

The agreement partners DHL with both the British & Irish Lions and the Springboks as the teams’ official logistics partner for the forthcoming tour, providing logistical expertise and support during the Lions series which consists of eight matches across six cities.

DHL announced as logistics partner for Lions series
DHL announced as logistics partner for Lions series

Through this new partnership, DHL will play an integral role in backing the teams both on and off the pitch, providing delivery services between venues while their logo will appear on the backs of the Lions, Springboks and invitational teams’ jerseys.

‘DHL is a brand that is synonymous with delivering excellence, so today marks the partnership of two teams who strive to be the best,’ said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

‘DHL has consistently been a supporter of rugby here in South Africa, so we are delighted to have their expertise behind us as we bid to defend our turf against the Lions.’

DHL will also be supporting both teams’ supporters and delivering them closer to their team through exclusive merchandise and match tickets. The deal will also have DHL delivering the ball on to the field for the start of every tour match through its ‘Match Ball Delivery’ mascots, alongside premium pitch, stadia and kit branding rights.

DHL announced as logistics partner for Lions series
DHL announced as logistics partner for Lions series

John Pearson, DHL Express CEO, said: ‘Rugby represents many important values such as teamwork, passion, speed and respect, all of which are core qualities which resonate very strongly with our DHL brand values.

‘I am delighted to be continuing our partnership with the British & Irish Lions tour next year and thrilled to be adding the Springboks as a partner, further building on our global ties with rugby.

‘By partnering with both, we further highlight our commitment to rugby and to keeping the world connected. We look forward to engaging with the teams and fans of both the Lions and Springboks before and throughout the tour.’

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Lions Tour 2021 fixtures in South Africa: Match dates, times and TV schedule

The British & Irish Lions will embark on an eight-match tour to South Africa in July culminating in the third and final Test in August
The British & Irish Lions Tour in South Africa begins on July 3, although there will be a pre-tour match against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26 before the team departs.

The tour has been shortened from 10 games to eight, with the Lions playing Super Rugby sides the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls before the Test series.

The first match in South Africa will be against the Stormers on July 3, with further warm-up matches against a South Africa Invitational side, the Sharks, South Africa A and the Bulls before the start of the three-Test series against the Springboks on July 24. The final Test is on August 7.

Sky Sports has the exclusive broadcast rights for the tour.

Lions Tour 2021 fixtures and TV channel

Saturday, June 26… Japan… Murrayfield… Sky Sports… KO TBC

Saturday July 3… Stormers… Cape Town… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Wednesday, July 7… South Africa Invitational… Port Elizabeth… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Saturday, July 10… Sharks… Durban… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Wednesday, July 14… South Africa A… Mbombela… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Saturday, July 17… Bulls… Pretoria… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Saturday, July 24… South Africa… Johannesburg… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Saturday, July 31… South Africa… Cape Town… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

Saturday, August 7… South Africa… Johannesburg… Sky Sports… KO 7pm GMT

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British and Irish Lions release the XV fans want to be picked as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric miss out

Fans have been voting on the Lions side they would like to see take on South Africa next summer and there are only two Welshmen given the nod

The British and Irish Lions have released the line-up fans want to see as things stand – with just two Welsh players making the grade.

The Lions, once again under the leadership of former Wales coach Warren Gatland, is set to tour South Africa next summer, and the speculation over who will earn their place on the plane has predictably already begun.

Wales haven’t had a good 2020, with last weekend’s victory over Georgia halting a run of six consecutive Test defeats.

British and Irish Lions release the XV fans want to be picked as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric miss out
British and Irish Lions release the XV fans want to be picked as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric miss out

Whether such poor form will harm the chances of the country’s stars from earning a place in Gatland’s squad remains to be seen, but the fans believe there’s little room for Welsh representation at this stage.

Releasing the overall XV voted on by fans through the Lion app, only two Wales players make the side, with Liam Williams given the nod at winger, while Jonathan Davies is handed a place at center alongside Manu Tuilagi, who is one of 10 England players included.

Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, and Sam Underhill are also handed places up front, behind a front row of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, and Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong.

Stuart Hogg is Scotland’s one and only representative at full-back, with Jonny May on the wing.

Owen Farrell is at 10, with Ben Youngs chosen at scrum-half.

There is some way to go before Gatland makes up his mind, but the consensus at the moment is that a large English contingent will be required next summer.

British and Irish Lions release the XV fans want to be picked as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric miss out
British and Irish Lions release the XV fans want to be picked as Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric miss out

The Lions will take on Japan in a historic home match at Murrayfield on June 26 before jetting off to South Africa, with the first test in Port Elizabeth on July 7.

The fans’ Lions XV: Stuart Hogg, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, James Ryan, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

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Good news and bad news for rugby fans seeking tickets to British & Irish Lions tour to SA

There is good news and bad news for rugby fans who were left despondent after failing to secure tickets for next year’s British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Seats were quickly snapped up when they were initially made available but a second batch for matches has become available to South African residents. However‚ those tickets exclude the three Test matches.

Good news and bad news for rugby fans seeking tickets to British & Irish Lions tour to SA
Good news and bad news for rugby fans seeking tickets to British & Irish Lions tour to SA

Tickets to see the British & Irish Lions take on South Africa ‘A’‚ a special Invitational team as well as the Stormers‚ Sharks and Bulls are available for R100. They will go on general sale on a first-come-first-served basis on Wednesday.

SA Rugby said in a statement sales have reopened following the reconciliation of the ballot process‚ which saw the three-Test matches over-subscribed by as much as 574%.

“Those who were unlucky enough to miss out in the ballot have been notified by email of the second chance‚ which will commence at 10h00 on Wednesday‚ November 18 via www.lionstour2021.co.za (SA time)‚” SA Rugby said in a statement.

“We had a tremendous uptake when the ballot opened; with the ‘sold out’ signs going up for the Tests and close to sold out for the provincial matches‚” said Jurie Roux‚ SA Rugby’s chief executive.

“Now that those sales have been confirmed we can put the balance of the tickets into the market to give more people the chance be part of this once-in-a-decade experience.

“Lions tours of South Africa come around less frequently than do Rugby World Cups. They are occasions that make rugby history in the biggest way. This is another chance to be part of the magic.”

Good news and bad news for rugby fans seeking tickets to British & Irish Lions tour to SA

The British & Irish Lions play their opening match against the Stormers in Cape Town on 3 July‚ in the first international rugby match at the Cape Town Stadium.

Before the three Tests‚ the Lions will also visit Port Elizabeth (against a South Africa Invitational team on 7 July)‚ Durban (Sharks on 10 July)‚ Nelspruit (South Africa ‘A’ on 14 July) and Pretoria (Bulls on 17 July).

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British and Irish Lions partner with digital platform innovators PT Sport Suite

PT Sport Suite has been chosen by The British & Irish Lions to provide media services, which empower the Lions’ to tell the story of the 2021 tour to South Africa.

With less than a year until the squad touches down in Cape Town, the partnership will establish a cloud media ecosystem that transforms the way the Lions collect, manage and share their digital media while enabling the collection of media content from players and supporters.

“The partnership will establish a cloud media ecosystem that transforms the way the Lions collect, manage and share their digital media”

British and Irish Lions partner with digital platform innovators PT Sport Suite
British and Irish Lions partner with digital platform innovators PT Sport Suite

By transforming the Lions’ digital media workflow, unlocking the power of their digital media archive, and providing video OTT distribution to the tour mobile app and web platform, supporters will enjoy more epic sporting content than ever before.

In a key attraction for the Lions, PT Sport Suite will work with existing partners to ensure unprecedented collaboration between all stakeholders – by providing an official media portal that gives sponsors real-time access to exclusive Lions media.

The biggest stakeholders will always be the ‘sea of red’ Lions supporters. To make South Africa 2021 a truly fan-first affair, supporters will be allowed to make their mark on the team’s rich history by making their own Lions media submissions via a series of fan content challenges.

PT Sport Suite CEO Rich Cherry said: “It’s a great honor for our team to be working with the British & Irish Lions – one of the world’s great sporting brands – and their partners. The epic 97 Lions tour of South Africa is still indelibly printed in my sporting memory, so for PT Sport Suite to be bringing our digital ecosystem to bear is very exciting for our sports-mad team.

“We’re looking forward to working with the Lions to provide a foundation upon which to unearth the digital gems of past tours – Rich Cheery, PT Sport Suite CEO”

“We’re looking forward to working with the Lions digital team to provide a sound and scalable foundation upon which to unearth the digital gems of past tours on a level not seen before while providing passionate Lions fans with the opportunity to make an indelible mark on future tours. Their media contributions will add immense value to the ever-growing Lions archive of tour-generated media.”

British and Irish Lions partner with digital platform innovators PT Sport Suite

British & Irish Lions director of digital, media, and communication Shane Whelan said: “We are delighted to have partnered with PT Sport Suite, who we have worked closely with over the past few months. The digital archive is a fantastic addition and allows us to be more efficient in terms of storage of key digital assets.”

“We look forward to maximizing the broad offering of fan engagement functionality that PT boasts over the next few months – Shane Whelan, B&I Lions director of digital, media and communications”

“Also, we have already seen the benefit of the video platform in terms of our new look website and recently launched app. We look forward to maximizing the broad offering of fan engagement functionality that PT boasts over the next few months.”

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Five big names who WON’T be in the British Lions squad in 2021

Head coach Warren Gatland has revealed he will name the smallest touring party ever assembled for a British & Irish Lions tour in 2021

Gatz took 41 players on the last tour but has revealed the much smaller group next year.

Therefore, the squad who jets off to South Africa next July is sure to leave a few big names behind.

Here, RUCK selects five huge names who we think could very well be the unlucky ones to miss out on selection.

Jonathan Davies (Wales)

Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Jonathan Davies (Wales)

Lads, it’s impossible to deny the center was phenomenal four years ago in New Zealand and he was deservedly the man of the series – but when was the last time he honestly had a decent game? Under Wayne Pivac, the 30-year-old has made five underwhelming appearances with an average score of 5/10 from the player rating section The Rugby Paper during this period. We can pretend he’s the same player all we want, but it’s simply not true.

Jonny May (England)

Jonny May (England)

Might be being a bit brutal here, but May peaked last year and hasn’t been at his try-scoring best for a while now. Failed to score for Gloucester after rejoining them from Gloucester in July with his barren run stretching into his last two internationals. The speedster has now failed to cross the whitewash in his last nine hours of play. This would be unfortunate, but his badly timed dip in form could cost him a place on the Lions tour.

Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Another Welshman who started four years ago, but injuries have begun taking their toll on the powerhouse. He’s recently returned to the international fold but looks a shadow of his former self. CJ Stander, Billy Vunipola, Caelan Doris represent significant competition for a place in the squad.

Finn Russell (Scotland)

Finn Russell (Scotland)

On paper, he’s possibly the most talented player the British Isles has to offer. However, let’s be frank, the Scots’ flair and unpredictability are not what Gatland looks for In a number 10. Against South Africa, he’ll want a playmaker that looks after the ball, which just isn’t Russell, who conceded five turnovers for Racing in the recent Champions Cup final. You can already imagine the outcry come June when Dan Biggar or George Ford are called up ahead of him

Hamish Watson (Scotland)

Hamish Watson (Scotland)
Hamish Watson (Scotland)

This is just sad. Nobody would complain about the back-rower making the squad, but let’s assume Gatland only going to select two open sides. There is a lot of competition with Justin Tipuric, Sam Underhill, Jack Willis, and Josh van der Flier battling out for those places. When it comes down to marginal picks, the Scots almost always miss out.

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British and Irish Lions v Japan: England players set to Miss Murrayfield warm-up

Britain players are set to miss the British and Irish Lions warm-up coordinate against Japan on 26 June Since it is outside World Rugby’s Test window.

“Right now Premiership Rugby has not authorized the arrival of English-based players.” Lions overseeing Chief Ben Calveley revealed to BBC Sport. Rugby fans can book British lions 2021 tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

The limitation implies Scotland commander Stuart Hogg, who plays for Exeter. He would likewise miss the Murrayfield game. The Premiership last is on 26 June – the very day as the Lions’ warm-up.

Anyway, Calveley said he trusted that an arrangement could be reached. This will permit players from the 10 Premiership clubs not playing in the homegrown show-stopper to be included against Japan.

British and Irish Lions v Japan: England players set to Miss Murrayfield warm-up
British and Irish Lions v Japan: England players set to Miss Murrayfield warm-up

“If there is a way that the players that aren’t playing in the last could be made accessible for the match then obviously we might want that,” additional Calveley.

We will proceed in exchange for the entirety of the partners in question.

“Whoever is wearing Lion’s pullover will be an unimaginably top-notch gathering of players prepared to take on that challenge against Japan.”

Hogg’s Exeter and Scotland partner Jonny Gray and Wales. Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau is likewise set to be inaccessible for the installation of the way things are.

Remarkable Conditions:

Britain’s players all play their club rugby on home soil with a determination of abroad players for the global side just permitted in “remarkable conditions”.

World Rugby specifies that homegrown sides are just obliged to deliver players to play worldwide installations from the primary seven day stretch of July. The Lions’ start their visit through South Africa against Cape Town-put together commonplace side the Stormers to 3 July.

The primary Test against the best on the planet Springboks is in Johannesburg on 24 July The second and third Tests on the accompanying two ends of the week.

Calveley said he was “totally hopeful” that the visit would proceed notwithstanding the troubles of Covid. Although conceding that “we are possibility arranging out of sight if various situations arise”.

British and Irish Lions v Japan: England players set to Miss Murrayfield warm-up
British and Irish Lions v Japan: England players set to Miss Murrayfield warm-up

The Japan match will be an uncommon “home” installation for the Lions. They drew with Argentina in Cardiff before the 2005 visit through New Zealand However, have endeavored to orchestrate abroad warm-up matches before ongoing outings.

The 2013 group beat the Barbarians in Hong Kong on a visit on the way to Australia. Japan arrived at the last eight of the Rugby World Cup on home soil in 2019 Progressing from the pools to the detriment of Scotland. They additionally scored an outstanding triumph over South Africa in the 2015 competition.

“They are a capable side who play high-beat rugby, so it’ll be a decent test for us,” said Lions lead trainer Warren Gatland.

“The matchday crew can put hands up for Test choice.”

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