Get ready for mad October: July Tests have been pushed back due to coronavirus and now rugby is set for a club versus country WAR as a huge bottleneck develops on fixture list
- Test schedule in July has been shelved because of the Covid-19 pandemic
- World Rugby are now hoping to reschedule the Test fixtures for October
- But cash-strapped clubs want to resume domestic and European competitions
- A tug-of-war over stars such as Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje appears inevitable
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Rugby is on course for a club versus country battle after the international summer tours were postponed until later this year.
World Rugby on Friday confirmed that the Test schedule for the July window, including England’s tour of Japan, has been shelved because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
England coach Eddie Jones said: ‘While we are of course disappointed to have our two Test matches against Japan postponed, it’s the correct decision under the current circumstances.’
A tug-of-war over star players such as Owen Farrell (above) and Maro Itoje appears inevitable
World Rugby are now hoping to reschedule fixtures for October, leaving governing bodies scrambling for space in the calendar.
Sportsmail understands that a video call between all parties is planned for next week in anticipation of hardline negotiations.
Clubs are losing millions of pounds in advertising and TV revenue, so are desperate to resume domestic and European competitions.
Unions are also committing to finishing the Six Nations and fulfilling their November Test schedule, resulting in a huge bottleneck of fixtures. A tug-of-war over star players such as Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje appears inevitable.
England coach Eddie Jones backed the decision to cancel the tour of Japan next month
European Rugby (EPCR) chairman Simon Halliday has already hit out at World Rugby for ignoring the clubs.
‘We can’t just be excluded from the discussion and we won’t be excluded from the discussion,’ he said last month.
‘We are reading that international rugby could be played through October/November, which is a key time for our 2020-21 competition and potentially a date for this season’s final.
‘To hear that there’s planning going on for international games on those dates does a lot of damage to us. We have commitments to partners and broadcasters. We have a responsibility to our business to be heard. I just think that enough is enough.’
His scathing criticism was followed up by English and French leagues writing to World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont, demanding more consideration. EPCR subsequently announced proposals to hold the 2020 finals on October 16 and 17, so something has to give.
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont wants to reschedule the Test fixtures for October
Difficulties surrounding international travel will complicate matters and World Rugby must await governments’ advice.
A World Rugby statement confirmed: ‘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.
‘Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with… the respective authorities.
‘All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and International Rugby Players, will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year.
‘All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby.’
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