World rugby confirms the inevitable
NEWS: The programme of international rugby matches during the 2020 July window has been postponed due to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives, World Rugby has announced on Friday.
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.
The decision will have the effect that the 2020 series between the Springboks and Scotland, as well as the Springboks’ historic Test against Georgia, are postponed.
The Springboks were scheduled to play Scotland in a two-game home Test series in Cape Town (on July 4, Newlands) and Durban (July 11, Kings Park), while the first-ever match between the Boks and Georgia on South African soil, was pencilled in for Port Elizabeth (July 18, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium).
Ireland and Fiji had both been due to visit cash-strapped Australia, New Zealand were to host Wales and Scotland and England were set to visit Japan in what is a key period for the sport.
Joint statement on postponement of July internationalshttps://t.co/bHfr893tZT
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) May 15, 2020
Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and 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.
“Any solution will have player health, welfare and appropriate return-to-play protocols at heart,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“It would be inappropriate to comment of potential solutions during a fluid and important consultation process.”
The decision had been widely expected by the southern hemisphere nations, who also have concerns about the four-nation Rugby Championship — featuring New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina — which is due to start in August.
“With so much uncertainty around international travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was really taken out of our hands,” New Zealand Rugby chief Mark Robinson said.
“From a New Zealand point of view, we are taking a pragmatic approach to the international Test programme.”
New Zealand and Australia are already in talks about a possible Test series later in the year, and Australian Rugby’s interim chief executive Rob Clarke said restoring the Ireland and Fiji fixtures remained a possibility.
“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,” he said.