The British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa will go ahead as planned next summer, with FNB Stadium, Cape Town Stadium and Emirates Airline Park pencilled in to stage Test matches.

The COVID-19 pandemic had raised questions over whether the tour would be pushed back until the autumn but it will go ahead as initially scheduled from July 3 to August 7.

Johannesburg’s ‘Soccer City’ FNB Stadium, which staged the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, will host the first Test on July 24, before Cape Town Stadium hosts the second Test on July 31. The Lions will return to Johannesburg for the third and final Test against the world champions at Emirates Airline Park, the site of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, on August 7.

FNB Stadium (pictured) has not hosted a South Africa national team match since 2013, while the second game at Cape Town Stadium will mark the first Lions Test in the city since 1997.

The tour will start when the Lions face the Stormers Super Rugby team at Cape Town Stadium on July 3, before they take on a South Africa ‘Invitational’ team at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on July 7.

Further matches are scheduled against Super Rugby’s Cell C Sharks at Durban’s Jonsson Kings Park on July 10, a South Africa ‘A’ team at Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium on July 14, and Super Rugby’s Bulls at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld on July 17.

Details of the date tickets will go on sale will be announced shortly.

Ben Calveley, managing director of the Lions, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption to the sporting calendar, but after extensive discussions we are now able to confirm that the Tour dates are as previously announced.

“An enormous amount of planning, especially from a logistical perspective, goes into putting on a Lions series, so it was crucial that a decision was agreed upon in good time. I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide some clarity for all those Lions supporters eager to travel to South Africa next summer.”

The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, winning four Test series, losing eight and drawing one.

Image: Prosthetic Head/Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)/Edited for size