South Africa winger Dillyn Leyds said staging this year’s British and Irish Lions tour in Australia rather than on home ground “would be the biggest disappointment” in the Springboks’ history.
Earlier this week Rugby Australia offered to host the eight matches scheduled between July 3 to August 7 as South Africa’s Covid-19 cases ballooned to more than 1.4 million, with almost 45,000 deaths.
“I would go as far as saying it would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history probably,” Leyds told AFP.
“If you put it into perspective. It’s the defending World Cup champions against the best the British and Irish have to offer. It’s a mouthwatering encounter,” he added.
Leyds, 28, won the last of his 10 caps in 2019 and is eyeing an international return this summer.
“The dream of wearing the Springboks jersey will never stop. As a little kid, growing up in South Africa, playing rugby, I don’t think there’s one person that would say they don’t want to play for the Springboks,” he said.
“There’s a bit of doubt over the Lions series, but it’s something I’m pushing hard for,” he added.
The winger joined French club La Rochelle this season after featuring for Western Province and the Stormers.
His coach on the Atlantic coast is former Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara, who went on three Lions tours and conceded the winning penalty in the second Test of the 2009 tour against the Springboks.
“I haven’t spoken to him about it. He’s gotten a bit too much stick for that over the years so I don’t think I’ll bring it up with him,” he said.
“Although one of the boys has mentioned it before. We had a quick laugh, but just a quick one, you don’t want to laugh too long about it because it might put your place in the team in jeopardy!”
– ‘Proper crack’ at Racing –
This weekend, Leyds’ club can go top as they head to Racing 92 in a rearranged fixture originally postponed due to coronavirus cases among the visitors’ squad last month.
The home side will be without Scotland’s Finn Russell and France’s Teddy Thomas away on Six Nations duty while centre Virimi Vakatawa has a knee injury.
“I think it would have been a great test to go up against Russell and Thomas and Vakatawa, who are world class players,” he said.
“Racing, without those names, are still pretty stacked and we’re keen to go and give them a proper crack on their turf.”
Fixtures (times GMT)
Clermont v Lyon (1945)
Montpellier v Stade Francais (2000)
Racing 92 v La Rochelle (1315), Castres v Bayonne (1700)
© Agence France-Presse via SPNAfrica News