Despite threats of Covid-19, the British & Irish Lions Tour in South Africa began on July 3.
The tour has been reduced to eight games, plus a pre-Tour match on June 26 against Japan which saw the Lions get their campaign off to a positive start with a commanding 28-10 victory.
But the Lions will be without their talismanic captain Alun Wyn Jones, who has been ruled out of the tour after sustaining a shoulder injury only eight minutes into the game against Japan and Justin Tipuric. Conor Murray has been named as replacement captain for Jones.
Although Sky Sports has the exclusive live broadcast rights, live coverage of the Lions Tour will also be shown on terrestrial television.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, Channel 4 will screen the highlights from all three Test games against South Africa. Highlights from all Lions Tour matches will also be available to watch via its video on demand service, All4.
Talksport radio will also be commentating live across all nine matches, with World Cup winners Bryan Habana (South Africa) and Ben Kay (England), ex-Ireland and Lions wing Tommy Bowe and former rugby player and Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan weighing in on each game.
The full tour schedule, including details of kick-off times and how to watch the games in the UK, is set out below.
Sky Sports reveal commentary team for Lions tour
by Charlie Morgan
Sky Sports will dedicate a channel to 24-hour coverage of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa with former Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara and retired international referee Nigel Owens among their team of pundits.
Sky Sports Action will be rebranded as Sky Sports The Lions on July 17, ahead of the tourists’ match against DHL Stormers in Cape Town, and stay in place until August 10, three days after the Test series ends.
Before that, barring any changes in schedule, viewers will be able to watch the Lions’ matches against Emirates Lions (July 3), Cell C Sharks (July 7), Vodacom Bulls (July 10) and South Africa A (July 14) on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event.
Alex Payne is due to front the coverage, which will comprise a large roster of analysts. O’Gara, fresh from a season in which his La Rochelle side were runners-up to Toulouse in both the European Champions Cup and Top 14, and Owens are new faces.
O’Gara is also a veteran of three Lions tours, including the last trip to South Africa in 2009. Sam Warburton, skipper of the 2017 tour to New Zealand, will be in the studio with former England back-rower Maggie Alphonsi.
As well as Alphonsi, Sir Ian McGeechan and Will Greenwood make it three Telegraph Rugby columnists involved. Scott Quinnell will be travelling around the United Kingdom to speak to Lions supporters.
Sarra Elgan and Bryan Habana are to report from South Africa and, in the absence of Miles Harrison, Conor McNamara will be Sky Sports’ lead commentator. The behind-closed-doors tour will also be the first in the professional era to not feature Stuart Barnes.
Besides exclusive live coverage of matches, Sky Sports The Lions is to feature highlights, documentaries and archive footage as well as a Lions Breakfast Show on Sunday mornings that will digest events of the previous day and discuss media coverage of the tour.
Finally, Sky Sports customers will have access to Chasing the Sun, an acclaimed, five-part documentary that details South Africa’s journey to World Cup glory in 2019.
British & Irish Lions 2021 TV channel schedule
Saturday, June 26 2021
Saturday, July 3 2021
Wednesday, July 7 2021
British & Irish Lions v Sharks – Johannesburg (6pm, Sky Sports)
Saturday, July 10 2021
British & Irish Lions v Sharks – Pretoria (5pm, Sky Sports)
Wednesday, 14 July 2021
British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ – Cape Town (7pm, Sky Sports)
Saturday, July 17 2021
British & Irish Lions v Stormers – Cape Town (5pm, Sky Sports)
Saturday, July 24 2021
1st Test v South Africa – Cape Town (5pm, Sky Sports)
Saturday, July 31 2021
2nd Test v South Africa – Cape Town (5pm, Sky Sports)
Saturday, August 7 2021
3rd Test v South Africa – Johannesburg (5pm, Sky Sports)
All game times are BST