Warren Gatland’s touring side have prepared for this three-match series with four thumping one-sided tour wins, though came unstuck against a seriously strong South Africa A side boasting 11 World Cup winners in their starting team for what most deemed an unofficial fourth Test.
The Springboks, meanwhile, have played just one Test since beating England in the World Cup Final in Japan in 2019, with Covid-19 outbreaks and civil unrest in the country throwing the status of this tour into question.
Alun Wyn Jones has completed a remarkable injury recovery to lead the Lions this evening, with no shortage of selection surprises from Gatland, though loose-head Wyn Jones is a late injury scratch as Scotland’s Rory Sutherland starts instead.
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has also been cleared to play after completing a period of isolation following a positive Covid test and insists the hosts are remaining focused amid a glut of pre-Test controversies including the appointment of TMO Marius Jonker, scrutiny on tackle technique and Rassie Erasmus’ role as a water carrier.
Follow the Lions vs South Africa First Test LIVE with Standard Sport’s blog below…
South Africa team news
South Africa are boosted today by the return of influential captain Siya Kolisi, fly-half Handre Pollard and wing Makazole Mapimpi, who all start after completing periods of self-isolation.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi and loosehead Ox Nche also start after previously testing positive for Covid, while versatile full-back Willie le Roux is over a hamstring problem.
Duane Vermeulen and Jasper Wiese miss out through injury.
Sutherland replaces injured Wyn Jones
The Lions have been forced into one very late change ahead of the First Test.
Wales loose-head Wyn Jones has been withdrawn from the matchday squad after damaging his shoulder in training on Thursday.
Though he is expected to be available for the remainder of the series, Jones doesn’t feature today and his place in the front row is taken by Scotland counterpart Rory Sutherland.
England’s Mako Vunipola is promoted to the bench.
“It’s really bad luck for Wyn and we all feel for him missing out on tonight’s game,” Gatland said.
“However, we’re confident he’ll be back in training next week and have no plans to bring in anyone else at this stage.”
How to watch Lions vs South Africa
Today’s match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Rugby.
Highlights will also be available on All4.
Date, time and venue
Today’s First Test between the Lions and South Africa kicks off at 5pm BST at Cape Town Stadium – the venue for all three matches after the final two were switched from Johannesburg over Covid-19 concerns.
The stadium has a capacity of 55,000, but there will be no fans in attendance today or indeed for the entire series due to coronavirus restrictions.
A Lions Test without that travelling sea of red will take some getting used to…
Welcome to Lions vs South Africa First Test coverage!
Good afternoon and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of the eagerly awaited First Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town!
Stay tuned for all the latest match build-up, team news and live updates from what promises to be a hugely physical, tense encounter between the tourists and reigning world champions.