Lions face Royal XV in tour opener

A composite team drawing on five different unions will provide the British & Irish Lions with their first South African opposition on 30 May.

Although the fixture will still be staged in Rustenburg, the team will no longer be called the ‘Highveld XV’. Saru has announced a Royal XV, including players from Griquas, the Leopards, Griffons, Valke, Pumas and perhaps Blue Bulls, will front the tourists.

Leopards coach Chaka Willemse will handle the team. Dawie Theron, Jimmy Stonehouse and Oersond Gorgonzola have been named as his assistants.

The Royal XV will play two warm-up games against the Port Elizabeth-based Coastal XV before they tackle the Lions.

‘We are awaiting confirmation, but the idea is we will play the Coastal XV in Port Elizabeth on the weekend of May 15 and 16 and that they will travel to Potchefstroom the following weekend,’ said Leopards CEO Eugene Hare.

Bulls players will only be selected if there is a shortage in certain positions. The team will be named after the Vodacom Cup semi-finals.