Aussies give Lions tour and supporters the all clear

Friday, March 02, 2001
The Australian Rugby Union have confirmed that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain will not prevent the Lions from making their summer tour Down Under.

The ARU said it was assured that travellers were unlikely to be banned from Australia while Britain and Ireland fights the latest outbreak of the livestock disease, meaning the Lions will arrive in June for their first tour since 1989.

The ARU is satisfied with advice from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, which is expected to clear up to 10,000 tourists bound for Lions matches.

‘‘We understand there will be greater scrutiny at customs with inbound passengers reminded of their duty to declare anything listed on their Customs cards,’’ said ARU communications manager Strath Gordon.

‘‘AQIS has told us that they are asking people to declare all foodstuffs, soils and sporting equipment and to declare whether they have visited any farms or non-metropolitan areas.’’

Meanwhile there is no danger that tomorrow’s Calcutta Cup clash between England and Scotland in the Six Nations championship will be called off.

The English RFU stressed yesterday that the game will go ahead despite a worsening in the foot and mouth disease. Their Scottish counterparts have, however, asked that supporters from rural areas refrain from travelling to the big game.

There is to be no restriction of movement in Britain despite the fact that new outbreaks of the disease have happened every day in the last week. While Ireland and Wales agreed to a postponement of their game in Cardiff tomorrow in a bid to halt the spread of the problem, it appears neither the English or Scottish Unions have taken stock of the problem.

However the A match tonight between the two countries has now been switched from Newcastle to Leeds following an outbreak of the disease on Tyneside yesterday.

English Rugby Union director of communications Richard Prescott explained:

"The big match will go ahead. We have been in constant communication with the Ministry of Agriculture and they have given us the go ahead.

"I am told that people from rural areas in Scotland are being asked not to travel and we would give the same advice to English people.

"The Irish situation was different. There is a stretch of water between the countries and you can’t blame anyone for the decision to call off the match. It is a shame about the timing of this outbreak. We don’t know whether this tournament will be completed or not."