World Rugby to decide July tests by 'end of march'

by AFP

World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte said on Thursday a decision on July's Test window, including the British and IrishLions tour to South Africa, will be made by the end of next month.

France are scheduled to head to Australia and Italy to New Zealand but the coronavirus pandemic has put the fixtures in doubt.

"We decided at World Rugby to firstly take a decision if the tours will take place, or not, at the end of March," Laporte, who is also the French Rugby Federation's president, told radio station RMC Sport.

"Because we need time to turn things around but I sincerely think France will go to Australia, Italy will go to New Zealand seeing they are the two trips posing questions. The Lions, too, of course," he added.

Earlier this week, Rugby Australia offered to host the Lions tour as South Africa's Covid-19 cases ballooned to more than 1.4 million, with almost 45,000 deaths.

LIONS TO ROAR DOWN UNDER: Could the Boks play the Lions tour in Australia?

CONVERTS IN: Teams name sides for Narrabri Trials

Laporte opened the door to holding the eight-match tour set to run from July 3 to August 7 in the northern hemisphere.

"They might play in Europe and it would be a good thing," he said.

Australia's borders are currently closed due to the virus outbreak butthose able to arrive are subject to a two-week quarantine.

Former France coach Laporte said it would be an issue with the Top 14 finals scheduled on June 25, eight days before the first Test against the Wallabies.

Pre-register for Stan Sport now to watch every minute of Super Rugby AU. The new add-on Sport package is available for just $10 a month with customers able to get a 30 day free trial for a limited time only.

"But if we're told that we have to quarantine for 14 days in a room, it's not possible," he said.

"Because, we arrive the day after the Top 14 final to (prepare to) play the first game," he added.

If France's three-Test programme is cancelled, Laporte said a repeat oflast year's Autumn Nations Cup could be organised.

"Like we did last season. If they tell us 'you can't go to the southernhemisphere and they can't come here... We can talk and say 'why not play friendlies again between us'?

"Friendlies would be there to make money and because a coach need games two years out from a Rugby World Cup," he added.