Lions to play Japan in warm-up game ahead of South African tour

Ross Houston
October 23, 2020

The Edinburgh encounter is a week before the Lions' tour opener in Cape Town, and it will be their first Test appearance on British or Irish soil since drawing 25-25 with Argentina in Cardiff 15 years ago.

The second Test follows on Saturday, July 31 at the Cape Town Stadium - the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 - before the British and Irish tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday 7 August at Emirates Airline Park, the storied venue of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

The Lions squad, comprising players selected from the so-called Home Nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, generally tours every four years to the southern hemisphere.

"We are very pleased to be partnering with RDA for our worldwide media rights distribution", said Ben Calveley, the British & Irish Lions managing director.

Japan beat Ireland at last year's World Cup on home soil.


"We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully-motivated to win", Lions head coach Warren Gatland said in a statement.

"It's a chance for the matchday squad to put hands up for Test selection".

"Of course we are hoping fans can get into those venues, and our "Plan A" is making sure we are ready to deal with whatever pandemic environment we find in South Africa next year, and our planning does involve there being fans in those venues".

Tickets for the match will go on pre-sale on November 3 with supporters able to register their interest at lionsrugby.com/Vodafone-1888-Cup from Wednesday.

The Lions play their first match in South Africa against the Stormers on 3 July 2021.


"The position right now is that there is no sanctioning of English players to play in this fixture, but we would be keen to keep that dialogue open and we would be hopeful that position might change", Calveley said.

'It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, and we can't wait for it to come'.

The Lions want a home fixture in order to raise enough funds to persuade Premiership Rugby to bring forward the date of its final by a week to allow Gatland's squad extra preparation time before leaving the UK.

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has welcomed the warmup test against Japan.


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