The Island will provide a ‘rest and relaxation’ base for the Lions after the conclusion of the six-week tour, which culminates in a deciding Test match against the Springboks, South Africa’s national team, this Saturday. Jersey played host to the Lions for an 11-day training camp in June, and has now emerged as the preferred location for the post-tour break.
The JEP understands that while some members of the party have independent holiday plans, most will fly from Cape Town to Dublin, from where the Irish contingent will be able to return home, before the remaining tourists – about half of the total group – transfer to Jersey.
Discussions with officials in Jersey are believed to have centred on what Covid-19 restrictions would be imposed on members of the group once they land in Jersey.
Although South Africa is currently one of the countries on the UK’s red list, necessitating mandatory quarantine for arriving passengers, the Lions’ strict Covid protocols – which include daily testing – are understood to have provided scope for a less rigid regime.
Head coach Warren Gatland, who is due to go from South Africa to his native New Zealand after the tour, first raised the prospect of a possible return to Jersey when he spoke at a fundraising dinner at the Royal Jersey Showground.
During the training camp, the Lions squad trained at the new Strive gym in St Peter and the adjacent facilities of Jersey Reds, while also enjoying some leisure time and taking part in visits to Island schools.
The trip was supported by £175,000 in funding from the government, with initial estimates that media coverage resulting from the Lions’ stay was worth £3.3 million.