The British and Irish Lions announced their tour of South Africa for 2021 today and they are lucky. I say lucky as normally the Rugby administrators who arrange the itenary do it in such a way it messes them around. When you have a country with venues at sea level and then altitude they normally mix the matches up so the touring team struggles to climatise. The thinner air at altitude affects your breathing and teams not used to it loose all their puff by the 60 minute mark.
The Lions this time start at sea level for the first 2 weeks and then hit the highveld for another 2 warm up matches before the first test. The bummer is they are dragged back to sea level for the second test, but that shouldn't be an issue. Cleverly though they have dragged them back up to the highveld for the last one giving them the added advantage of altitude on the last game only.
I see the Lions tours as the ultimate rugby challenge for most players and I know Australia, New Zealand and South Africa look forward to this rare challenge. Players in these countries will only face this team once in their careers as the tour only happens every 12 years as they alternate every 4 years between the 3 countries.
I think with the competitions such as the Rugby Championship it has taken away some of the history as teams used to tour playing a 3 or 4 test series that lasted a good couple of months. The British and Irish Lions is the last of it's kind that still does this and why it is so special to the players and the fans. Traveling fans also get to experience the country on a fabulous exchange rate which is sitting at R20 to the £1 or R16 to the $1. A good night out won't break the bank as long as you stay away from the touristy hot spots.
The Lions are a special team made up of the home nations and it doesn't matter if you are a Scotsmen or a Welshmen you are part of a special team that you will cherish for the rest of your life. I have memories form my child hood days watching the Lions practice up the road from where I used to live and would go and watch for hours. It tells my age as Clive Woodward was one of the tourists in that team.
teams that are on tour are treated like royalty and get to see all the things that are great within that country and going on safari is certainly a highlight for them. This is possibly why they have a game in Nelspruit as the Kruger Park is not far away and expect them to be staying in some 5 star lodge that week.
Hippo on the loose in January this year so you are close to the parks in Nelspruit.
The second test match is tempting as it is in Cape Town and only two year away so I will have to decide soon whether I would like to go and watch it as the tickets will be snapped up as soon as they are available. The first test is in Johannesburg and at the FNB Stadium which is a shame as it is a football stadium in Soweto and a real ball ache to get to. No parking close by and the best bet is an Uber. It is literally 20 minutes from my house, but it may as well be a 2 hour flight away as it will take you that long to even get close and then you still have to get out afterwards.
The last time I was there it took nearly 4 hours to drop some friends off and advise anyone thinking about going to skip that one and watch it on television. The traffic police block the roads and everyone is funneled through the one road with a stadium capacity of 90 000 that is some serious chaos.