B&I Lions favourites to best the Boks

With one of world rugby’s most anticipated events soon hitting TV screens across the nation, there is plenty of analysis and talk that is being directed into the upcoming clash between the Springboks and the legendary British and Irish Lions.

The Lions Tour, initiated in 1888 occurs every four years, and sees the “Home Nations” (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) mobilise to take on one of the Southern Hemisphere’s rugby playing giants, namely New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

The tour only happens once every fourth year, with opposition (in the form of New Zealand, South Africa and  Australia) rotating. The last time the Springboks faced the British and Irish Lions was in 2009, were the men in green and gold bested their northern hemisphere nemeses 2-1 in a thrilling test series.

What makes the tour so special is that it does not start and end with the Lions facing off against the host nation’s flagship test rugby team. The Lions tour comprises a journey across the nation they are visiting, stopping off to play against local teams along the way to sharpen their skills and boost their chemistry as they go.

The tour then concludes with a blockbuster match up against the home nation’s national team as they battle it out over a three test series played at different locations. The winner needs to trump their opponents twice out of three times, to reserve their places in history.

The sheer tradition and history that is upheld when the red strip of the British and Irish Lions is donned is that of legend. It is symbolic of an almost fairytale-like story of otherwise foes teaming up to face all a nation has to offer in terms of its best rugby playing representatives.

This year however, the story is a little bit different, and is guaranteed to be influenced by unforeseen events that have now come to revolutionise life as we know it. The Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly harsh on the sport of rugby, with South Africa feeling the effects particularly heavily.

The world cup winnings Springboks have yet to mobilise since their successful 2019 RWC campaign. The Bokke were forced to miss out on the 2020 Rugby Championship, and were unable to complete any international tours, nor were they able to welcome any international competition into South Africa.

Rather, all of the professional rugby that was played in South Africa in 2020 was internal. Chief among these competitions was the annual Currie Cup, and Super Rugby Unlocked, South Africa’s answer to an internal Super Rugby competition.

The harsh truth is that South African rugby has not faced any fresh competition in almost 18 months. And while the Bokke do have a world title behind their name, there is no denying that this lack of external competition is expected to have an effect on their upcoming date with the Lions.

All betting sites in South Africa currently have Lions as favourites to clinch the series, and leave the Bokke reeling due to their inactivity.

If we look at the Lions however, each of the nations that will be upholding the tradition have had some taste of international competition, either through the six nations, or through competitions such as the Pro 14, and the currently active Rainbow Cup.

What is for sure, is that time will tell. Will the bookies get it wrong, or will their forecasts come to fruition?

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