Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 May 2020

World Rugby postpones all Test matches scheduled for July

Travel restrictions and strict quarantine protocols made decision inevitable

2019 World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama. Reuters
2019 World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama. Reuters

World Rugby has decided to postpone all Test matches scheduled for July due to travel restrictions and health protocols implemented to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the global governing body said on Friday.

Most cross border and domestic club competitions have been suspended since March as countries battled the Covid-19 pandemic, and the July Test window had long been under threat with many nations expecting games to be postponed.

Travel bans, strict quarantine protocols and player safety concerns meant "cross border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July", World Rugby said in a statement.

It was too early to determine whether matches in the November window would be affected at this stage, it added, with a decision contingent on advice from governments and health organisations.

South Africa Rugby Chief Executive Jurie Roux said health concerns were the priority.

"Any solution will have player health, welfare and appropriate return-to-play protocols at heart," Roux said in a statement.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on potential solutions during a fluid and important consultation process."

World champions South Africa were due to host Scotland and Georgia in July. The postponements will place further financial strain on most rugby nations, with even the leading countries predicting multi-million dollar losses in 2020 due to reduced television, commercial and ticket revenue.

Many are now looking at alternatives for when restrictions are eased or lifted in an effort to give broadcasters content.

New Zealand has already confirmed that a domestic competition for its Super Rugby teams will start next month, while South Africa and Australia are making similar plans, according to Reuters.

Updated: May 15, 2020 03:36 PM

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