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Gatland's Lions to face Japan before departing on South Africa tour

The game is set to be played at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in June 2021.

THE LIONS HAVE confirmed a fixture against Japan at Murrayfield in Scotland next year before their tour of South Africa.

Warren Gatland’s side are scheduled to face the Brave Blossoms in Edinburgh on Saturday 26 June 2021 in what is just the Lions’ third ‘home’ game.

It will also be the first-ever meeting between the Lions and Japan.

japan-celebrate-at-the-final-whistle Japan beat Ireland at last year's World Cup on home soil. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Gatland’s squad are due to depart on their eight-game tour of South Africa following the Japan clash, with the first tour fixture taking place the following Saturday 3 July against the Stormers.

As things stand, the Lions tour is still scheduled to go ahead although there is obviously some uncertainty due to Covid-19.

“One of our objectives is to give Warren and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on tour, so we are delighted to have agreed this fixture,” said Ben Calveley, the managing director of the British & Irish Lions.

“A Lions Test is one of the most iconic events in world sport, but a huge number of fans from the Home Nations never get the chance to see one live. The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup match [against Japan] will give even more supporters the opportunity to be part of the next chapter in Lions history.

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Japan, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals on home soil last year, will not play Test rugby for the entirety of 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions but Gatland is looking forward to a stern test against Jamie Joseph’s side next year.

“We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully motivated to win,” said Gatland.

“They are a talented side who play high-tempo rugby, so it’ll be a good challenge for us ahead of the tour and a chance for the matchday squad to put their hands up for Test selection.”

The Lions have previously played ‘home’ games against Argentina in Cardiff in 2005 and versus a Rest of the World XV in 1986, also in Cardiff.

2021 British & Irish Lions tour schedule:

  • Saturday 26 June: British & Irish Lions v Japan – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
  • Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v DHL Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
  • Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘Invitational’ – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
  • Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
  • Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
  • Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
  • Saturday 24 July (first Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
  • Saturday 31 July (second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
  • Saturday 7 August (third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg.

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Murray Kinsella

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