Image: The Principality Stadium; photo by Robin Sherry

Due to the pandemic, the Lions South Africa series is expected to take place in the UK. We discuss the high probability of Test matches being hosted in Cardiff, as well as Lions tour hospitality at the Principality Stadium.

The British and Irish Lions were set to travel to South Africa this summer, but the tour is at risk of being abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an attempt to salvage the series, multiple scenarios and contingency plans are being discussed.

The most likely scenario is for the touring teams to be reversed, by hosting matches in the UK and Ireland. All Covid restrictions are due to be lifted in England on 21st June, allowing for the return of fans in stadiums.  

Reports have named Cardiff, Edinburgh, Dublin and London as possible hosting cities. Given the Principality Stadium’s (home of Wales Rugby) iconic status - and schedule-free July - it could be a viable venue option for Test matches.

We talk over the reasons why Cardiff’s greatest landmark would be the perfect place to watch the Lions take on current world champions, Springboks.

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The stadium's history

The Principality Stadium (formerly known as The Millenium Stadium) was initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup. It has since gone on to host a variety of large-scale events such as the 2017 Champions League final and Rugby World Cup games with huge success.

The stadium is home to the Welsh Rugby Union and is owned by the club’s subsidiary, Millennium Stadium plc. After signing a 10-year sponsorship deal with Principality Building Society, the stadium’s name changed to ‘The Principality Stadium’ in early 2016.

The stadium’s new name came with a new look. The old National Stadium was transformed into an awe-inspiring arena with a capacity of 74,500. “When WRU chairman Glanmor Griffiths promised Welsh fans ‘the best stadium in the world’” (via Wales Online), he certainly delivered.  

Alongside impressive hybrid pitch systems, The Principality Stadium is famous for its retractable roof. It’s only the second stadium of its type in Europe and the largest football stadium in the world with this feature.

The National Stadium of Wales has become hallowed ground to Welsh Rugby Union fans. And it’s clear to see why. Due to its world beating in-stadium features, The Principality Stadium continues to chart in world’s best rugby stadiums lists, including Sky Scanner and Venatour.

This incredible stadium has also helped Wales Rugby seal Six Nation Grand Slam titles in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2019. If the 2021 Lions tour is moved to the UK, they could achieve similar success on Cardiff’s hallowed turf.

The rugby

Under the management of Warren Gatland, the Wales Rugby team has gained international recognition as one of the best rugby teams in the world.

They are the most successful team in the Six Nations, having won five Six Nations titles (more than any other team) in Gatland’s tenure. Wales Rugby also reached the Rugby World Cup semi-final in 2011, where they narrowly missed out on the title by losing 9-8 to France.

Cardiff is also home to former Wales and two-time British and Irish Lions captain, Sam Waburton. In 2019, the Welsh Rugby legend joined Seat Unique as a brand ambassador, championing our premium ticketing platform, which opens up fan access to official VIP tickets and hospitality packages for live events.  

When asked about his role, Sam said: “"The industry has been crying out for a platform like Seat Unique and it’s one I truly believe in. I think it’s got serious legs, and most importantly, it’s the right thing to do for fans to access tickets. From that point of view, becoming a Brand Ambassador was no brainer."

In the event the 2021 Lions tour comes to the UK, there is potential for fans to access tickets to exclusive pre-match events organised by our team.  We’re hoping to host ‘An Evening with Sam Warburton’, where fans will have the chance to meet the Lions legend, hear match insights and enjoy luxury hospitality at the Principality Stadium.

Cardiff city's electric atmosphere

For as long anyone can remember, Wales has been a rugby-mad nation. Why? Award-winning journalist and author, Carolyn Hitt, argues that rugby has ‘helped create Welsh nationhood’. In her article titled, ‘Why rugby unites our nation’, Hitt cites historian Professor Gareth Williams, who claims: ‘one of the pivotal moments in the cultural history of Wales – is the victory over New Zealand in 1905.’

Hitt explains: ‘That win over New Zealand’s All Blacks was certainly a titanic game, and one that left a lasting legacy – not least the tradition of singing national anthems at sporting fixtures. Wales introduced this choral ritual to the world after deciding to sing the Welsh national anthem as a tactical response to New Zealand’s terrifying war dance, the Haka.’

Seat Unique Marketing Director, Phillipa Hicks, standing outside the entrance of The Principality Stadium.
Image: Seat Unique Marketing Director, Phillipa Hicks, at The Principality Stadium. Photo by Robin Sherry

From the 19th century onward, rugby has been an integral part of Wales’ cultural history. The nation’s pride and passion is still as prevalent today. However, the bond is at its strongest when players and fans connect through song at Cardiff.      

Located in the centre of Wales’ capital city, The Principality Stadium is world-renowned for its incredible hair-raising atmosphere - most notably the unrivalled rendition of the Welsh Rugby National Anthem, which often sees 74,500 fans singing in unison before each match.

The Principality Stadium creates a patriotic and enjoyable environment for anyone visiting. If Lions Test matches are played there, fans can expect an unforgettable matchday experience as supporters from each home nation come together to cheer on the greatest touring team.

The Principality Stadium's unrivalled hospitality

There’s nothing better than watching the national game in its national home, from the best seats in the house. The Principality Stadium has some incredible hospitality facilities that provide fans with a unique and unmissable experience for every fixture.

From The Players’ Lounge and The Captain’s Club to The Clubhouse and Riverside Terrace, the hospitality staff at the Principality Stadium will ensure you have an unforgettable experience. You will be treated to exquisite fine-dining,complimentary bars and appearances from rugby legends all centered around an exhilarating 80-minute rugby match.

The Principality Stadium also offers official off-site hospitality at four hotels close to the stadium. Off-site packages include a match ticket, match programme, food and drinks package and a first-class hospitality service.

For fans who prefer more intimate hospitality settings, can book one of 99 available private suites. From a spacious balcony, fans will be able to take in panoramic views of the stadium while sitting comfortably on a wider padded seat.

To be the first to know about premium tickets, hospitality packages and private box options for the 2021 Lions tour, sign up to our mailing list below.

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Sam Warburton’s 2021 Lions squad predictions

Last summer, we asked Sam for his top squad prediction for the next Lions tour. Here’s his top five:

"Stuart Hogg from Scotland, Liam Williams from Wales and Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Kyle Sinckler from England."

Do you agree with Sam’s predictions? Let us know in the comments below.

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