Truncated tour of South Africa removes last vestige of romance from Lions | Robert Kitson

Eight-match schedule signals end of the midweek dirt-tracker and the Premiership’s refusal to help is hugely depressingEvery four years the British & Irish Lions unveil a tantalising tour schedule and invite thousands of supporters to sign up for the trip of a lifetime, in this instance to South Africa in 2021. A three-Test series on Springbok soil remains one of sport’s truly great adventures but seldom has there been a stronger sense of the golden goose being potentially suffocated by the constraints of self-interest and the global calendar.Amid all the anticipation of a gripping three-Test series against the reigning world champions which could break all previous box office records, it is important to examine the small print. Not only have Premiership Rugby now formally slammed the door shut on any possibility of shifting the date of its 2021 final on 26 June to accommodate crucial extra preparation time but the scheduling of only two early midweek games sums up the fast-changing times. Continue reading…