The first-ever clash between the world’s greatest touring side and the Brave Blossoms will raise the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited Tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three-Test series against Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.
Tickets for the historic fixture go on pre-sale on Tuesday 3 November, with supporters able to register their interest at lionsrugby.com/Vodafone-1888-Cup. Vodafone customers will be able to benefit from access to tickets and giveaways via the VeryMe loyalty programme.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland believes the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will provide a stern test for his squad before they depart for South Africa.
“We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully-motivated to win,” said Gatland.
“They are a talented side who play high-tempo rugby, so it’ll be a good challenge for us ahead of the Tour, and a chance for the match day squad to put their hands up for Test selection.”
Lions managing director Ben Calveley added: “One of our objectives is to give Warren and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on Tour, so we are delighted to have agreed this fixture.
“A Lions Test is one of the most iconic events in world sport, but a huge number of fans from the home nations never get the chance to see one live. The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup match will give even more supporters the opportunity to be part of the next chapter in Lions history.
“It will be an ‘I was there’ moment, against an entertaining and highly-respected opposition.”
Japan head coach Jamie Joseph is also relishing the prospect of the fixture: “We are very much looking forward to playing a Test against the Lions next year.
“It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, and we can’t wait for it to come.”
Scottish Rugby’s 67,000-seater stadium in Edinburgh will host the first Lions Test match on ‘home’ soil since playing against Argentina in Cardiff in 2005 and Mark Dodson, chief executive of Scottish Rugby and Lions board director, believes the iconic ground will provide an ideal backdrop for the Test.
“The deep connection Scotland enjoys with the British & Irish Lions has helped to shape the rich history of the team with players, coaches and support staff all contributing to the success of the side down the years,” said Dodson.
The Lions’ lead partner, Vodafone, who announced their partnership earlier in the year, are excited to be supporting the fixture. Max Taylor, commercial director, Vodafone UK said, “We are proud to be part of this incredible rugby moment and to be able to give home fans the opportunity to experience the full force of the Lions on UK soil.”
The Lions’ eight-game tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday 3 July 2021 when they play Vodacom Super Rugby’s DHL Stormers in Cape Town. Three weeks later the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test – a venue which previously hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
The second Test follows on Saturday 31 July at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British and Irish tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday 7 August at Emirates Airline Park, the venue of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.
The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.