Lions agree to play in township game

 

THE Lions rugby team will `play' in a South African township for the first time since apartheid was abolished next year when their 13 match tour of the Republic begins on May 24th in Korsten, outside Port Elizabeth.

At will be the first Lions visit to South Africa since 1980 and follows the recent pattern of trips to Australia and New Zealand, with the three Tests being crammed into the final weeks of the tour.

The Lions agreed to the match in the township to assist the growth of the game there. A South African Rugby Football Union official said "The SARFU remain committed to a vision of rugby becoming a truly national sport, representing the whole country.""

The Lions play South Africa's top regions West Province, Orange Free State, Transvaal, North Transvaal and Natal in a demanding build up to the Test matches.

The games against Western Province and Transvaal are in midweek, meaning there will be little opportunity in the early stages to divide the squad into a Test and a second team.

The Lions start at sea level at Port Elizabeth before going to the 6,000ft altitude of Johannesburg and Pretoria for the second phase of the tour at the start of June.

They then return to the coast for the first Test in Cape Town and the second Test in Durban. The final Test is back at altitude in the World Cup final stadium at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on July 5th.