Place your bets – the British and Irish Lions are locked, loaded, and ready to safari in South Africa
The eight-match British and Irish Lions tour, including three Tests, from 3 July to 7 August is a historic sporting occasion, as the composite side of the cream of British and Irish talent only tour South Africa every 12 years. In terms of sheer excitement – and betting opportunities – it’s on par with the Rugby World Cup!
Billed as “the greatest touring rugby team in the world”, the Lions represent a stern challenge for the men in green and gold. Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad boasts the likes of England juggernaut Maro Itoje and Scottish sensation Finn Russell, and is marshalled by the irrepressible Alun Wyn Jones.
Facing up to hostile Southern Hemisphere crowds is rooted in the Lions’ DNA and they will be itching to build on the impressive drawn series in New Zealand in 2017 by claiming the Springboks’ scalp. There are also 10 Englishmen who did battle against the Boks in the 2019 World Cup final in the Lions squad. Grudge match, anyone?
New Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has selected an enterprising squad combining dependable stalwarts and exciting youth, with uncapped Sharks duo Sanele Nohamba and Aphelele Fassi, and rampaging Joseph Dweba expected to bring the fireworks.
The Springboks may be undercooked due to the absence of Super Rugby and European Rainbow Cup adventures, but they will want to assert their World Cup-winning credentials on home soil.
Bear in mind: Of the 13 series played in South Africa, the British and Irish Lions have won four – and only the 1971 and 1997 tours when you exclude anything played before 1900.
When it comes to the betting, don’t discount the tourists’ games against the Emirates Lions, Sharks, Bulls, and South Africa A sides. While the Lions will deservedly start as favourites against the franchises and Springbok B teams shorn of their national stars, these sides will enjoy home advantage and many of their players will be looking to send a message to the selectors. There could be an upset or two in the offing!
The tour is set to be a special one for Jesse Kriel. The Bok centre’s great-grandfather, John Hodgson, made 15 appearances for the British and Irish Lions, and featured in the England team that played against the Springboks in 1932 in London. Talk about running in the family!
Bar Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones, Kriel’s fellow centre Frans Steyn is the sole surviving member from the exhilarating 2009 series, which the Boks won 2-1. Now in the twilight of a glittering career, the 34-year-old hardman’s thunderous boot and battle-worn nous may yet prove pivotal in deciding the outcome in 2021.
All things considered, it’s going to be a thrilling month for rugby fans and sports betting alike. The British and Irish Lions don’t come here too often, so take full advantage! SunBet – South Africa’s premier sports betting – can help you maximise the excitement with a full range of betting options. Don’t be booted into touch by a second-rate sports betting platform – SunBet will be with you through every scrum, lineout, and try of the Lions tour and beyond!