When does the Lions tour 2021 start? Dates of rugby series schedule, fixtures, squad - and how to watch on TV

The British and Irish Lions will play eight matches in their tour of South Africa, culminating in three Tests against the world champions

The countdown to the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa is on.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named an expanded 37-man squad for the eight-match tour of South Africa - culminating in three Tests against the world champions.

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The squad will have a pre-tour fixture with Japan at Murrayfield before the tour, which was uncertain to go ahead amid the Covid pandemic, starts in July against Super Rugby opposition.

Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions for the 2021 tour of South Africa. (Pic: Getty)

Here’s the full list of fixtures for the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa - and how to watch on TV.

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When does the Lions tour start?

The Lions will begin their summer fixtures on familiar ground when Japan visit Murrayfield on Saturday 26 June 2021 before the South Africa tour begins the following week.

Fixtures against Super Rugby sides DHL Stormers, Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls will provide the tourists with the chance to get acclimatised before the three Tests.

There will also be fixtures against an Emirates Lions side and a South Africa A to fulfil for Gatland’s team, who will be led on the field by Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

What is the full schedule of Lions tour fixtures?

The confirmed dates and venues of the British and Irish Lions tour so far:

Saturday 26 June - Lions vs Japan - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh - KO: TBC

Saturday 3 July - Lions vs Emirates Lions - Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg - KO: 5pm (BST)

Wednesday 7 July - Lions vs Cell C Sharks - Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg - KO: 5pm

Saturday 10 July - Lions vs Vodacom Bulls - Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - KO: 5pm

Wednesday 14 July - Lions vs South Africa A - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town - KO: 5pm

Saturday 17 July - Lions vs DHL Stormers - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town - KO: 5pm

Saturday 24 July - Lions vs South Africa - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town - KO: 5pm

Saturday 31 July - Lions vs South Africa - FNB Stadium, Johannesburg - KO: 5pm

Saturday 7 August - Lions vs South Africa - FNB Stadium, Johannesburg - KO: 5pm

How can I watch the Lions tour on TV?

All Lions tour matches will be shown live on TV.

Sky Sports won the television broadcast rights to the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa and will show all the action live through one or more of its dedicated channels.

Sky Sports packages cost upwards of £18 per month for individual channels for existing Sky customers, while the complete sports package costs £25 per month.

The matches can also be heard over the wireless through radio station TalkSport.

Who made the 2021 Lions tour squad?

Alun Wyn Jones was named the British and Irish Lions captain for the 2021 tour of South Africa moments before the full squad was revealed. And here it is:

Backs: Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Gareth Davies, Owen Farrell, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Hogg, Conor Murray, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Anthony Watson, Liam Williams.

Forwards: Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Zander Fagerson, Taulupe Faletau, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (capt.), Wyn Jones, Courtney Lawes, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland, Justin Tipuric, Mako Vunipola, Hamish Watson.