British and Irish Lions 2021: South Africa to gather for first time since World Cup

British and Irish Lions 2021: South Africa to gather for first time since World Cup thumbnail
South Africa have not played since beating England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final

South Africa are tentatively beginning preparations for July’s British and Irish Lions tour with groups of players to attend “alignment camps” in April.

The Springboks have not played a Test or even officially gathered as a squad since becoming world champions in November 2019 because of Covid-19.

But director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and head coach Jaques Nienaber will now meet with groups of players to “present their plans for the 2021 season”.

The first Lions Test is on 24 July.

While South Africa have been unable to play because of a strict lockdown in the country, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have completed two Six Nations campaigns and an Autumn Nations Cup tournament.

Springbok players based in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France will also gather as separate groups and there will be virtual meetings for those in Japan.

“With a very busy and demanding international season looming, it is important we get everyone aligned as soon as possible,” said Erasmus.

“Although Jacques and his coaching staff have been in constant communication with the players throughout the past 15 months or so – keeping tabs on their performances, injury recovery and general well-being – we are now very excited and looking forward to meeting the players in a familiar team environment.”

In March, a contingency plan to play matches in Britain and Ireland was rejected by Lions organisers and head coach Warren Gatland is due to announce his squad for the tour at the start of May.

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