Springboks banking on reputations, Lions counting on form

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — After months of uncertainty and misgivings, the business end of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa gets underway with the opening test against the Springboks on Saturday.

COVID-19 has blanketed the tour for more than a year, casting grave doubts as to whether the tour will go ahead, and even whether it should. The merit of landing in a South Africa suffering through a third wave of the coronavirus, and just when a former president was jailed and sparked the worst violence since the end of apartheid, is worth arguing.

But the teams have navigated through both -- not without scars -- and look to take a significant step to series success in the first of three tests at Cape Town Stadium.

The venue was confirmed this week as the stage for the entire series due to the risk of returning to Johannesburg, the epicenter of South Africa's current wave, although no fans will be at any of the tests for the first time in the Lions' 133-year history.