Lions fans, we’re into June. And that can mean only one thing. The start of the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa is just under a month away. We can barely contain our excitement and we know you can’t either.
But that excitement is tinged with a little sadness. Of course, the 2021 tour will be played without the presence of any Lions fans in the stadiums. Years of tour plans have been put on hold for too many supporters, but at least we’ll still have the rugby to keep us going. And what a feast of rugby it looks set to be. So, while we can’t be there in person we can still cheer the Lions on from home. Here’s how to best bring South Africa to you and get behind our boys.
1. Kit up
It wouldn’t be a Lions tour without the right amount of red, white, blue and green. And what’s the best way to get it into your life for the 2021 tour? With a new 2021 British and Irish Lions jersey.
This time round, our jersey celebrates the journey a player must undergo to reach the very top of the game, as well as those who have helped them get there. And with no fans in the stadium to cheer on our boys, it’s the next best thing to show how much this team means to us back home.
2. Braais rather than BBQ
With South Africa being just an hour ahead of the UK, it means no early get ups for this tour compared to those in Australia and New Zealand (winner). Plus, with the three test matches kicking off at 5pm UK time, there’s plenty of time to get into the spirit of things South African style.
And there’s no better way to do a South African-style celebration than with a braai. A braai is a South African BBQ, but it’s much more than that. First off, the fire has to be lit with wood or coals – wood is preferred for the flavour it gives the meat. They’ll be no gas here. Braais are also long social gatherings that can last for hours on end. There’s the lighting of the fire, eating, and drinking – the fire stays on long after the food is cooked too. And when it comes to the eating we’re talking boerewors (“farmer’s sausage”), steak, chicken, lamb, game (sometimes springbok), corn and potato bakes. You can even start the day by heating your coffee on the braai – just like they do in the bush.
We’re thinking an early start, plenty of braaiing and some top quality rugby action come 5pm. It should be a sunny Saturday after all.
3. Become the king of the castle
There’s nothing like the feeling of being in the stand, with the sun on your face and a fresh beer in your hand for the start of a test match.
So, to recreate that South African feeling at home, it’s all about getting the right beers in. For a true taste of South Africa opt for Castle Lager – but if you can’t find it Amstel will do. Now that’s the stuff.
4. Go big or go home
Ahh, lockdown. You’ve been a cruel mistress. No pubs, no seeing your mates and no amateur rugby for long stretches. Now that’s all behind us and should (fingers crossed) all be a thing of the past come 21st June. Just in time for the start of the tour.
That means you can head down to the pub to watch with as many friends as possible (not just outside!) or get as many Lions fans as you can fit into your living room without worrying about breaking any restrictions. And those winning hugs and kisses will feel all the better for it (fingers crossed our boys bring it home). Yes we can’t be in South Africa in person, but this feels like the release we all need after a long tough year or so.
5. Get the exclusive updates
You know how it is when you’re on tour. You’re following the boys from venue to venue, and you pick up the essential gossip from inside the Lions camp from other fans with their ears to the ground.
How do you replicate that when you’re stuck in Blighty without an insider knowledge into the inner workings of Warren Gatland’s tactical plan? The next best thing is to download the official Lions App – it’s packed with exclusive content, news and features. It’ll be updated throughout the tour, so you’ll get all the essential knowledge as the tour unfolds. Almost as if you were there.
6. Make some noise
Veterans of Lions tours will tell you there’s one abiding noise that sticks in the memory from the 2009 tour. No it’s not the collective sigh and colourful language when Morné Steyn’s penalty sunk Lions hearts and ended any series hopes in the second test in Pretoria.
No, of course we’re talking about the vuvuzelas which were prominent at all matches. This loud monotone horn might not have made as much impact on the Lions tour as it did in the football World Cup a year later, but they did manage to make their presence known for the rugby too. The sound might be missing from the stadiums this time out, but you can recreate it at home if you so wish. We’re just not sure if your neighbours will thank you for it.
We all have our own rituals when watching the Lions at home. You might be draped from head to toe in 2021 British & Irish Lions kit with all your mates round or quietly biting your nails as the action unfolds in South Africa. However you do it, let’s unite as one as we wish the team luck and cheer them on from home shores.