CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa were attempting to alter the fixture schedule of the British & Irish Lions tour and add a second warm-up game for their Springbok squad at the weekend but will likely come up against stiff resistance from the tourists.
The South Africans have emerged from seven days of enforced isolation in their hotel, after having to cancel last Friday’s warm-up test against Georgia after outbreak of COVID-19 infections.
They named a quasi-Springbok side under the guise of South Africa A for Wednesday’s tour match in Cape Town and want another fixture between the two on Saturday.
The Lions are supposed to play the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday in what would be their last match-up against provincial opposition before the three-test series starts on July 24.
However, South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus sought to make a case for another match between the Lions and South Africa A Saturday, thereby guaranteeing his undercooked 45-man Springbok squad another key warm-up before the tests – an idea that the Lions are not keen on.
“It will be safest option. Our whole camp has tested negative two days in row now and we are in a hard bubble in our hotel” he told a news conference on Monday.
“The tourists are negative too.”
However, he conceded the idea was nowhere near being accepted. Lions coach Warren Gatland said no at a separate news conference on Monday.
“If we (SA Rugby) were in the position to change it, we would just ask Warren and his team for another game against South Africa A at the weekend but it’s not that simple,” Erasmus added.
He said it would be up to the Lions tour management to agree.
“But I’m going to beg until they can give me valid reason why it’s not the safest option,” he added.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)