Jersey is to host a training camp for The British & Irish Lions squad ahead of their 2021 tour to South Africa.
Senior members of the Lions’ management team visited Jersey this week to discuss travel and accommodation logistics for the ten-day training camp, which will be held just before the Lions’ test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June.
The delegation also discussed the Covid-19 protocols that would be in place during the training camp, and possibilities for community engagement while the squad and coaches are in Jersey.
Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “This visit has confirmed that Jersey can provide the facilities and support that we need. I will be bringing the coaching and management team back to the Island later this month to finalise plans and I’m confident that, when the squad arrives in June, we will have the environment we need to prepare to meet the Springboks.”
Minister for Economic Development, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “When the touring party arrives, Jersey will be in the international spotlight, which will bring significant benefits to the Island’s profile as a safe and vibrant visitor destination, not only for rugby supporters but also for other sporting fans and organisations.
“Our aim is that Jersey continues to develop as a safe and accessible location for global sporting events where athletes can train and compete with the very best facilities in a beautiful island environment.”
Ben Harvey, the Managing Director of the elite performance complex Strive, has been instrumental in bringing the Lions to Jersey. He said: “To welcome the Lions as the inaugural squad is a tremendous coup and creates a fantastic platform to promote the offering.”
The training camp will begin shortly after Jersey enters Stage 7 of the reconnection roadmap, when it should be possible for Lions touring party to engage with Jersey’s community.
Senator Farnham said: “Jersey’s Covid-19 protocols have been consistently observed and will continue to be in line with our reconnection roadmap. I expect the Lions training camp to not only support our local and visitor economy, but also to inspire Islanders of all ages to become more active and to participate in sporting activities and to take advantage of our excellent sporting facilities and infrastructure.”
The Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport, Deputy Hugh Raymond, said: “Whilst we recognise that the core purpose of the visit is for the Lions to train, a programme is taking shape that will include school visits, open training sessions, and a charity fund-raising dinner, all of which should help to inspire a more active Jersey.”
Amanda Burns, CEO of Visit Jersey, comments on the news:
“We can’t wait to show the whole Lions team and coaching staff exactly why we’re known as the little island with big spirit. It’s fantastic that the tour – an iconic moment on the UK sporting calendar every four years – can proceed as planned and Jersey has helped that happen.
“While we know how hard the squad and staff will be working to prepare for a blockbuster test series, we hope that they get some downtime to experience the many delights that our island has to offer including our sandy beaches, blue seas, culinary delights and, most importantly, our welcoming hospitality.
“Congratulations must also go to Ben Harvey and the team at Strive, who have successfully developed a world-leading sports performance facility which will change the face of Island sport over the coming years.
“We expect the island to be just as welcoming to the tour as they are to the thousands of visitors we expect ahead of a busy staycation summer.”