So, the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) and the board of the British and Irish Lions did not pay heed to my suggestion last week that this summer’s tour should be called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. Well, let’s just all hope that the tour can be carried out safely and neither players nor coaches nor media people nor fans end up with Covid-19. But I really hae ma doots.

When I learned that SA Rugby were announcing an annual loss of 7.9million rand – about £400,000 – I knew for certain that the tour would go ahead, even with empty stadia, as the broadcasters had paid-up contracts and cancellation costs might well have bankrupted the Lions and SA Rugby.

SA Rugby made huge cuts to keep the sport going and have put in an official request to Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa asking for 50 per cent attendance at tour stadia. The final decision on crowd figures will be made by the South African government’s National Coronavirus Command Council.

We will have a chance to see how it all works as the Springboks will play two tests against Georgia in July, which will be a full 20 months after they last played together – a certain World Cup final in which they trounced England.

Warren Gatland’s naming of the squad for the tour was accompanied by the usual brouhaha of pundits and punters alike decrying his selection, and I was pleasantly surprised when he named eight Scots. I wrote that he might pick six or seven Scottish players but perhaps attack coach Gregor Townsend did influence Gatland.

As always, those nations who feel they were under-represented in the squad issued their howls of derision. The biggest controversy was when former Ireland forward Neil Francis let rip against the inclusion of most of the Scots.

My esteemed colleague David Barnes expertly kebabbed Francis in yesterday’s paper, so I will merely point out that Francis has a track record of opening his gob and putting both feet right in there.

Back in 2014, Francis said the following on Irish radio station Newstalk: “If you’ve ever sat down with homosexual people and asked them what their interests are, very often they have no interest in any kind of sport.”

For good measure he added: “You do a survey of the hairdressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals work in that.”

Asked about the estimate that 10% of people in sport are gay, he said: “How many homosexual men play professional sport? I would suspect that nowhere near 10%, I would say in the smaller margin of 1%.”

Mother of God, what a nice fella he is. He did apologise “profusely and unreservedly” shortly afterwards, probably to keep his job as a pundit. Anyone associating themselves with Francis’s latest remarks should be aware of the calibre of person he is.

Barnesy also made an interesting point – the last time eight Scots were picked was in 1983 and we won the Grand Slam the following year, and when we had nine in 1989 Scotland won the Grand Slam the following season, too. An omen?

Though the earlier games are important, the tour is all about the three Tests. Let’s hope Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, and Hamish Watson make it into the Test line-up as I believe they should. Chris Harris, Duhan van der Merwe, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, and Rory Sutherland might make it off the bench and if I were Jonny Gray and Jamie Ritchie, I would be on standby to fly out because of one thing I am sure, the squad of 37 picked last Thursday will not be intact by the start of the first Test on July 24, and replacements will be needed. Scotland will have played Romania and Georgia by then, so all the Scottish national squad will be fit if needed.

It’s the very fact that Gats has had the guts to pick the squad he wants and made Alun Wyn Jones the captain again which tells me the Lions might just beat the Boks in the Test series. The South African media have played right into Gatland’s hands by dismissing his squad – one pundit said Jones should be collecting his pension instead of playing in South Africa this summer. Never clever to rile a Lion… For the Tests, Gatland will pick 15 disciplined players who can tackle like fury and take big hits, because the Boks will combine their two greatest strengths – running over the top of opponents and passing with precision out wide – to make their impact. Their relentless physicality is undoubted and they will use it, which is why discipline will be needed so that few penalties are conceded.

In the final Test line-up, I don’t expect there to be too much difference in sheer size, and I am hoping that the result will come down to skill allied with strength rather than just bulk. And if Russell and Hogg play to their best, we will surely be hailing the Scottish contribution to Lions’ glory.