Summer tours put on hold due to the coronavirus
Rugby’s July Internationals postponed
World Rugby has confirmed that all of the scheduled July Internationals have been postponed due to the coronavirus.
England had been due to play a two-Test series in Japan, Ireland were heading to Australia, Scotland were set to face world champions South Africa as well as New Zealand, while Wales planned to play an International in Japan at the end of June before taking on the All Blacks.
All those matches, as well as the likes of South Africa v Georgia and women’s Internationals, have been postponed given the travel restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A World Rugby statement read: “Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.”
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The news was expected, with World Rugby, national unions and International Rugby Players discussing contingency plans in recent months. A second International window in October has been mooted to stage the postponed Tests, although that is dependent on the easing of global travel restrictions.
Rugby Australia interim CEO, Rob Clarke said: “This was an outcome we were anticipating, and we are planning accordingly to host the fixtures later in the year, if possible, and will continue to work with World Rugby to identify a new window within the international calendar to stage the matches.”
Australia and New Zealand, who are already relaxing lockdown directives, could play men’s and women’s Tests earlier.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said: “We are working hard to explore any and every opportunity to play All Blacks Tests as well as Black Ferns Tests this year and watching with keen interest any government discussions on a possible trans-Tasman bubble with Australia.”
Test matches for European nations do not look like a possibility until much later in the year, particularly with the Gallagher Premiership and Guinness Pro14 still aiming to finish the 2019-20 domestic season.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac said: “This postponement is disappointing but completely understandable in the circumstances,
“On a personal note I was really looking forward to returning to New Zealand with Wales. It’s unfortunate that we will now have to wait a little longer for that privilege, but the occasion will be no less relished when it arrives.”
World Rugby is aiming to achieve an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year, but there is also a chance that there will be limited or even no Test rugby for the rest of 2020 depending on how the Covid-19 crisis develops.
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