LIONS fans have launched a petition to demand that sport's most-famous touring side don't throw away years of tradition.
And more than 1,300 fans have already signed-up to keep the Lions touring – this year or next.
Warren Gatland's tourists are due to play in South Africa this summer, but that eight-match tour looks in huge doubt because of coronavirus.
One option would be to hold the series in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland this summer – but that goes against what the Lions stand for.
Organiser Mark Gardner said: "Covid-19 will almost certainly prevent the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour from taking place in the host country of South Africa.
"We are petitioning for the home nations of England (RFU), Scotland (SRU), Ireland (IRFU) Wales (WRU) who collectively make up the British & Irish Lions Board, and South Africa (SA Rugby) to do the right thing by agreeing to switch the Lions tour to 2022, placing this before the needs of their own country’s proposed summer tours.
"The Lions requires only 36 players from across the four home nations.
"A well-documented UK-hosted replacement Series in July 2021 not only dilutes the rich touring history of the Lions, it denies South Africa’s fans, stadia, businesses, and whole tourism infrastructure the opportunity to host, impress and benefit from the 30,000 fans expected to follow the world’s most passionate invitational touring team.
"Further, UK tour operators, independent travelling fans, airlines, and businesses that exist and rely on this outbound tourism would face substantial pressures on losses through commitments made to this date.
"Britain’s surging Covid rates offer no guarantee that matches on UK soil would provide access to fans, thus opening the potential of Test games held behind closed doors.
"What makes the Lions special, what makes the Lions unique is the power it has to tempt 30,000+ passionate rugby fans from across the British and Irish Isles to embark on a sporting pilgrimage to the opposite side of the globe.
"Help us reach 30,000 signatures to present this compelling case to keep the Lions in South Africa in July and August 2022 and NOT a watered-down alternative that focuses only on revenue for a select few beneficiaries."
The Lions are holding crunch meetings this month and hope to have made a final decision on the outcome by early February.
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