World Rugby planning for all scenarios on July Tests

International
by Oliver Lembke

World Rugby says it is planning for all scenarios when it comes to the upcoming July internationals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With rugby effectively suspended around the globe until at least the beginning of May and a host of Six Nations matches already postponed until October, the shape of the international calendar looks increasingly unclear.

The Wallabies are set to host Ireland for two July Tests and play Fiji in a standalone fixture in Townsville but with Queensland's borders locked down and travel bans in place around the country indefinitely, the fate of these Tests is under a serious cloud.

New Zealand are also scheduled to play Wales and Scotland in their matches but on both sides of the world, officials have admitted this could be difficult to continue with as scheduled.

No international unions have cancelled their July Tests but in a World Rugby statement released on Wednesday morning, the international body said they were looking at all scnearios. 

World Rugby's Executive Committee, of which Australian Brett Robinson is a member, and Professional Games Committee met overnight to discuss financial risk modelling and rugby's plans for this period of uncertainty.

Bill Beaumont says planning is being done for all scenarios. Photo: Getty Images“These are very difficult and entirely unprecedented times for society and sport. Our primary and immediate responsibility is to ensure the health and wellbeing of the global rugby community and to collectively support those in need," he said

“Solidarity is one of the foundations of rugby’s character-building values, and there has never been a time when our sense of solidarity, respect and friendship has been more important. At this crucial moment it was reassuring to see all parties unified through shared purpose in this initial exploratory discussion.

“The latest projections are that the impact of COVID-19 on public and sporting activities could extend for many more weeks, maybe months, and this productive meeting was an important and unified step towards tackling a global problem together in the best interests of all stakeholders.

“We are intensively examining scenario planning for the scheduled July internationals, should such a plan be required, while also considering ways to optimise the international competition calendar on and off the field for all when it is safe and appropriate to resume rugby activities. This important work will be undertaken by the World Rugby executive under guidance from the Executive Committee and we will work in full partnership with key stakeholders to explore potential appropriate actions.

“I am encouraged by the nature of these initial discussions and would like to thank all involved for their commitment to the global cause. Only by working in full partnership with our unions, the professional leagues and International Rugby Players, will we be able to deliver a solution that will reduce the impact of this extraordinary challenge on our sport.

“In the meantime, I encourage everyone to stay safe and heed public health advice.”

Europe's Champions Cup and Challenge Cup semi-finals and final slated to be played in May are the most recent XVs competitions to be postponed while the July Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021.