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Australia’s shock bid for Lions blockbuster

Australia is suddenly in the running to host the British and Irish Lions versus Springboks Test series in July and August.

The Lions are meant to tour South Africa but plans are in limbo due to COVID-19. Alternatives have been discussed, such as playing in empty stadiums or playing in the UK.

Yet Rugby Australia reached out to South African Rugby, the RFU and World Rugby to propose bringing the tour Down Under. Rugby Australia would simply cover its costs, with profits split between the three key parties, while Australian Super Rugby teams could potentially be involved in warm-up matches.

One report claimed that Rugby Australia’s proposal included the suggestion of a one-off Wallabies vs Lions Test.

Rugby Australia chief executive Hamish McLennan confirmed the offer to host the Lions-Springboks series, but declined comment on the potential Wallabies match.

“Ultimately it’s their call,” McLennan told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“What we learnt from the Tri Nations last year and the tennis that’s happening now is that Australia can successfully stage global tournaments in a COVID world.

“It’s particularly tough in the UK and South Africa at the moment and I believe the more international rugby that gets played here, the better.

“We’re here to help.”

McLennan said that the lure of hosting the marquee tour, regardless of convention, was putting elite rugby front and centre in Australia. With travel to Australia still tightly restricted, crowd numbers would defend on the enthusiasm of ex-pats and rugby fans happy to enjoy a world-class neutral contest.

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