World Rugby U20s Championship cancelled, Sevens World Series postponed

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The World Rugby U20s championship has been cancelled while the remainder of the Sevens World Series has been postponed as coronavirus continues its global spread.

This year's U20s tournament was set to be played in late June and early July in northern Italy but World Rugby announced overnight that the anual tournament would be cancelled entirely.

That news means the Junior Wallabies won't have a chance to better their runner-up finish from last year's tournament in Argentina.

The remainder of the Sevens World Series circuit has been pushed back as well, making the road to the Olympics more complicated for its teams.

Hong Kong and Singapore had already been postponed earlier in the year but on Saturday morning (AEDT), the women's Langford tournament and the London and Paris legs of the World Series were also officially postponed.

The London and Paris have been pencilled in for September while a new Langford slot is yet to be determined.

June's Olympic Games repechage that was set down for June is also "under review", World Rugby said in a statement, putting the last opportunity for teams to qualify for Tokyo in doubt.

The 2020 Paris Sevens has been postponed, along with the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Photo: Getty ImagesThe news means that the Tokyo Olympic Games, should they go ahead, would be the first international tournament in more than four months when the Sevens tournament kicks off on Monday July 27.

Australia's men last played the North America legs of LA and Vancouver at the start of March while the women have not played a tournament since the Sydney 7s on the first weekend of February.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said all the decisions were made with welfare at the forefront of their minds.

"We stand in solidarity with the global rugby family and people around the world at this exceptional and difficult time, and I will ensure we continue to do everything in our power to protect the wellbeing of the global rugby family and the wider public," he said in a statement.

"Taking the appropriate measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus in line with government and public health agency responses and advice is paramount.

"This has underpinned our decision, taken in consultation with our unions, to suspend these World Rugby tournament activities with immediate effect, including the cancellation of the World Rugby U20 Championship, following conversations with our friends at the Italian federation.

Bill Beaumont says welfare is the primary concern for World Rugby. Photo: Getty Images"We are in close dialogue with the IOC relating to the conclusion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rugby sevens qualification, specifically options to replace the final Repechage tournament, should that be required. We have two women’s and one men’s teams left to qualify and are currently considering all options to ensure a fair and credible conclusion to the qualification process.

"Looking at a longer-term strategy, we are in continual dialogue with our unions, regions and the players' association relating to the wider global impact on rugby activities, including financial implications, driven by government and health authority measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

"At this extraordinary time, we are united in our commitment to finding ways of ensuring that on-field activity can resume as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. To that end, the World Rugby Executive Committee is driving the implementation of a dedicated action plan that will guide us through this challenging period as a sport unified across the international and domestic environments."