‘It needs to go ahead this year’ – Alun Wyn Jones hopeful Lions tour will happen

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones believes that this year’s planned British and Irish Lions tour should go ahead “if it can”.

The Lions are due to visit South Africa in July and August, highlighted by a three-Test series against the world champions.

But the coronavirus pandemic has created considerable uncertainty over whether the eight-match trip will take place.

Possible options, meanwhile, under consideration by Lions chiefs are playing the games behind closed doors, delaying the tour until next year or hosting games in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Alun Wyn Jones in action for the Lions
Alun Wyn Jones in action for the Lions

Jones and his fellow skippers – England’s Owen Farrell, Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and Scotland’s Stuart Hogg – have all been involved in talks about tour plans.

The 35-year-old Welshman has played in nine Lions Tests across three tours.

He also captained them in a 2013 Test series-clinching victory over Australia when tour skipper Sam Warburton was injured.

“I think it needs to go ahead this year,” Jones said, speaking during Wednesday’s Guinness Six Nations virtual launch.

“The jury is out on where it will happen.

“We all know the jeopardy that it’s in. All being well, everyone will be safe and looked after if it does go ahead, for those guys selected.

“It would be a travesty if the fans weren’t able to go and see it.

“Having been involved in a few, it’s a very special tour and the fans make it that way.

“From a captain’s point of view, we (Jones, Farrell, Sexton and Hogg) are all in agreement that, if it can, it should go ahead this year.”

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, who toured South Africa as a player with the 1997 Lions, hopes a solution can be found.

“You can’t underestimate the value the Lions have to our sport and what it means to our players and our supporters,” Townsend told BBC Sport.

“So I just cross my fingers a solution is found and we can all get behind that team, whether it is this year or next year.”