The British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in '21 will be cut to eight matches in a move that "will be welcomed" by Premiership Rugby clubs, but "future trips could be restored to 10 fixtures with the four home unions keeping their options open," according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. Talks with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa about an agreement to cover the three tours in the next 12 years are "approaching a conclusion." The Lions have "come under pressure from the Premiership, which secured the backing of the Rugby Football Union, to cut the duration of tours and reduce the load on leading players." One of the reasons why the Lions have agreed to cut the number of fixtures is the belief that South Africa, unlike New Zealand this year, "would struggle to field seven teams of sufficient strength" outside the Tests. The country has suffered an "exodus of players to Europe and Japan this decade" and this year cut two teams, the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings, from its Super Rugby roster. The '25 tour to Australia is also "likely to be eight fixtures based on the current strength of the game there, but nothing is set in stone because of the fluid nature" of int'l rugby. If New Zealand rugby remains strong, it "would be worth playing 10 matches there" in '29. One administrator said, "Each tour will be looked at on its merits" (GUARDIAN, 9/24).
Events and Attractions
FIBA confirmed Tenerife, the largest of Spain's Canary Islands, will host the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018. The group phase will be held at the Tenerife Sports Pavilion Santiago Martín in San Cristóbal de La Laguna and the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Santa Cruz. The final phase will then take place in the Tenerife Sports Pavilion Santiago Martín, which has a seating capacity of 5,100. The Quico Cabrera venue is set for reconstruction and will be a 3,600-seat facility. Tenerife has experience hosting high-level basketball competitions, most recently serving as the background for the Final Four of the inaugural season of the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Intercontinental Cup (FIBA).
The World Motor Sport Council ratified a 13-round World Rally Championship calendar for the '18 season, with Turkey returning for the first time since '10. The WMSC confirmed that the Marmaris-based Rally Turkey will replace Rally Poland on next year's schedule, and will be held in September. The only other change in next year's schedule involves a switch for the rounds in Britain and Spain, with Rally GB running ahead of Rally Spain (DAILY SABAH, 9/22).
The All-Ireland women's football final between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park "smashed the record for the highest attended women's sporting event" of '17. Dublin won 4-11 to 0-11 in front of 46,286 fans. It was a record crowd for a Gaelic games ladies decider and "easily surpassed" the next-best women's crowd of 35,271 at May's Women's FA Cup final (RTÉ, 9/24).
Hong Kong will host China and two other teams in the 2019 World Cup basketball qualifiers after FIBA "bowed to the reality that Asia’s so-called events capital cannot provide a stadium" to meet its requirements. The 1,900-seat Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai was originally rejected by FIBA as the home venue "because it failed seating and lighting requirements, but it has been given a reprieve" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9/25).
Police conducted an anti-terror drill Monday at a sports arena in central Tokyo "based on a scenario of terrorists launching a chemical attack during big sports events such as the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics." About 1,000 people including riot squad personnel "joined the drill" at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, located close to the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics (KYODO, 9/25).