Rugby: British and Irish Lions series against South Africa could be played in UK and Ireland

The British and Irish Lions rugby series with South Africa could be staged in the UK and Ireland if COVID-19 prevents fans from travelling.

That is among the contingency plans discussed by the Lions board in the event the trip has to be abandoned, the BBC reports.

Instead, games would be played in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff, and Dublin across four consecutive weekends.

The South African Rugby Union has previously made it clear that a tour without visiting fans would not be commercially viable, and with COVID-19 prevalent inside the boarders, it appears highly unlikely that the series will take place.

The report says the Lions board is "unenthusiastic" about the idea of travelling without fans in tow, with the loss in revenue a key driving factor for both sides.

But even if border restrictions are lifted, the Lions board is worried that such a large movement of people could put any COVID-19 recovery in jeopardy, the report says.

It had been mooted that the tour might be delayed until 2022, but all four home nations have test matches scheduled for that summer window and are extremely reluctant to switch.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley tells the BBC: "It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data.

"After further consultation with SA Rugby, we will update on the outcome of these meetings in due course."

It is hoped that a successful cornavirus vaccine would allow fans to attend games in the UK in June and July.

A warm-up contest with Japan is already scheduled for Murrayfield in Edinburgh on June 26.