The British & Irish Lions have confirmed their tour of South Africa will go ahead as scheduled next summer.
Fears had been mounting that the series could be delayed due to the global health crisis, but discussions held by the Lions have led to them keeping plans on course for July-August 2021.
The eight-game tour will be exclusively broadcast by Sky Sports once again, and see the first Test take place at Soccer City in Johannesburg on July 24.
A return to Johannesburg’s Ellis Park will follow on from the second Test at the Cape Town Stadium.
It will be the third consecutive tour of South Africa where the Springboks will welcome the Lions as reigning world champions, as was the case in 1997 and 2009.
Warren Gatland acted as forward coach under Sir Ian McGeechan 11 years ago, but will return as an unbeaten Lions head coach next summer.
“Lions Tours are always unique, but to take on the world champions in their backyard will be something very special,” said Gatland.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am confident that we can go there and win.”
As the club and Test calendar begins to become clearer from the backlog brought on by the suspension of rugby due to COVID-19, the Lions tour taking place as scheduled means players will be in action for 12 months straight.
The Premiership and PRO14 announced they would be resuming their 2019-20 seasons in next month. While EPCR said the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup knockout stages will commence in September.
The Test window for autumn internationals will open at the end of October and running to early December, the same month domestic leagues are set to launch the 2020-21 campaigns.