Just Think About It.
Never before has South Africa needed to host a sporting event such as the 2021 British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour to South Africa more. Not just for the wonderful game of rugby but for the positive contribution it will make to the South African people and its economy as we witness the effect the global Covid -19 pandemic has had on the country - thirty thousand British and Irish Lions supporters with Pounds would provide hope and relief to many!
The devastation that even the thought of cancelling the Tour to South Africa and moving it to the UK will have, not only on big business, but most importantly the man in the street, is huge especially when one considers the number of people from both the formal and informal sectors that stand to be affected.
The formal hospitality industry (including, hotels, restaurant, bars and transport) will take a massive knock but, more concerning, is those people working in the informal sector: the sales people in and around the stadiums that sell flags and scarves, fast food, cools drinks and biltong! Let’s not forget the stadium stewards and security companies, as well as catering companies… all the labour that goes into hosting successful events - the list is endless of people who are just trying to make a living to feed their families!
We have all seen the speculation in the media and idle talk around the social scene…
TOUR TO BE MOVED TO AUSTRALIA?
TOUR TO BE MOVED TO THE UK?
TOUR DATES TO CHANGE TO OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2021?
TOUR DATES TO CHANGE TO FEBRUARY AND MARCH 2022?
TOUR DATES TO CHANGE TO JULY AND AUGUST 2022?
TOUR TO BE PLAYED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS?
TOUR TO BE CANCELLED?
Let us break some of these options down…
Tour to be moved to Australia? Why would it go to Australia when fans want to come to South Africa for its beauty and their past enjoyable experiences on previous Lions Tours, England Cricket Tours and a very successful Soccer World Cup in 2010? One must also factor in the ‘bang for your buck’ that supporters are able to get for their Pounds in South Africa… I certainly don’t believe Australia comes anywhere near this offering…Thank you Australia but no thanks!
Tour to be moved to the UK? As the great Willy John MacBride said recently, The British & Irish Lions is all about touring! Meeting new friends and watching your team dressed in red - with fellow supporters from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland, singing with open enthusiasm, united as one – regardless of whether you are a tradesman or a CEO! This only happens every twelve years in South Africa.
Tour dates to change? This is the most logical and sensible, or is it? If played in October/November 2021 - we hear this will affect the winter tour schedule of the Southern Hemisphere teams to the Northern Hemisphere. If played in February / March 2022, we are told this will affect the Six Nations schedule as well as have an effect on preparation for the Rugby World Cup in France 2023 - an event ‘stolen’ from South Africa by a country that not only got the Rugby World Cup Rugby in 2023 but also the Olympic Games the following year… Makes you think, doesn’t it?
One way or another, Covid-19 has affected us all and we have all had to make sacrifices. Surely any decision should be based on the love of the game of rugby and not the greed of many?
It goes without saying that should the British and Irish Lions Tour take place either in October and November 2021 or February and March 2022, there is the added benefit of the wonderful weather to be enjoyed in South Africa during those months!
Critically, the rugby fraternity around the world appears to have forgotten one thing – the Springboks are the current World Cup Champions and have not yet had the privilege of playing a single test match since their richly deserved win over England in Tokyo some eighteen months ago…
What weight does SA Rugby and the Springbok rugby players carry in making decision? Or will they miss out on playing this prestigious series on home soil because decisions makers in World Rugby may or may not have the best interest of the game at heart but rather make this decision, based purely on financial gain?
It saddens me deeply that the wonderful game of rugby may take a back seat to the financial gain of others, with little or no consideration of how important a tour of this nature is to the economic survival of so many South Africans. First World rugby nations like England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland will always bounce back financially; as a third world country, will South Africa and their beloved Springboks?
Personally, I don’t see how SA Rugby will survive should this tour not take place in South Africa. World Rugby will lose a great rugby nation in the Springboks who may be looking at a future of playing the likes of Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana and Madagascar, despite proving themselves to be the best rugby team in the world…
My suggestion – world sporting bodies should postpone all major sporting events until more clarity emerges around the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Only then can informed decisions be taken.
This is real – just think about it.
SWB Sports will keep you updated on future developments.
‘til next time