At the time of writing, it’s been around 18 months since the Springboks were last in action. Of course, most sports fans in South Africa will have vivid memories of the match, even if it was such a long time ago. After all, it was the Rugby World Cup Final, where the Springboks beat England 32-12 to become world champions for the third time.
It has been a long wait, for sure. And longer still since the Springboks appeared in their home country (September 2019, Pretoria, in a game against Argentina). And for Cape Town? Almost three years since the team played at the Cape Town Stadium.
But that will change next month as South Africa gets ready to welcome the British and Irish Lions. The 2021 Tour sees the best English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish rugby players arrive in South Africa for eight games, three of which are against the Springboks. The opening Test against the Lions is on 24th July at Cape Town Stadium.
Three games in Cape Town in July
However, the stadium will host two games beforehand, with South Africa ‘A’ (14th July) and Stormers playing the B&I Lions before the main event of the Springboks clash. Every Lions’ match is meaningful, both for the South African sides and the visitors. So, it will be interesting to see how the Stormers and South Africa A team (this is the national youth team, AKA the Emerging Springboks) fare at the Cape Town Stadium.
But the main event is on the 24th July, when we see how the world champions will fare against some of the Northern Hemisphere’s most talented players. Despite South Africa being World Cup winners, the Lions are marginal favourites. It’s 4/6 for the Lions to win the best of three series, whereas you can get best odds (at the time of writing) of 5/4 on a Springboks’ victory if you bet online with William Hill Sports. Regardless of what the bookies say, this will be a tough series – and it all gets underway in Cape Town.
40 Years since the Springboks beat the Lions in Cape Town
Details are still unclear about what fan attendance will be allowed at the Cape Town Stadium. The 55,000 capacity arena has never hosted a Lions game before. The last time the Springboks clashed with the Lions in Cape Town was back on the 1997 Tour, but the match was held at the Newlands Stadium. That match saw a victory for the Lions. Unfortunately, you have to go all the way back to 1980 to find the last time the Springboks beat the Lions in Cape Town.
South Africa did, however, win the last Lions Series in 2009, winning 2-1 after victories in Durban and Pretoria and a defeat in Johannesburg. But that will count for little next month. Indeed, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air, given that neither side has had the perfect preparations due to the postponement of games over the last year. South Africa will line up a number of warm-up games to get prepared.
But for Cape Town, there should be a carnival atmosphere – even if there are limits to the fans at the stadium. A Lions Tour is a special event, for those travelling to play South Africa’s best, the Springboks and, of course, the fans. Mark the date in your diary to welcome back the Springboks to Cape Town – for one of the toughest tests in world sport.