LONDON: Scotland will get the chance to avenge their defeat by 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts Japan when the Six Nations countries along with the Japanese and crowd-pleasing Fiji compete in an eight nation tournament from November 14 to December 5 British media reported yesterday. The final matches of the Six Nations — Italy v Ireland and the full round of final games which were postponed due to the lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic in March — will be played on October 24 and 31 according to a proposed plan by World Rugby.
The usual tours by southern hemisphere heavyweights to the northern hemisphere will not take place as the Rugby Championship is likely to take place after the Six Nations finishes. The Six Nations and Championship dates are due to be voted on by World Rugby Council tomorrow. The eight nation tournament in Europe will be divided into two pools of four teams. According to the reports, England will face Wales, Ireland and Fiji in one group, with the latter two fixtures at Twickenham and the venue of the first game still to be decided.
Wales are believed to want to play their autumn Tests in London.
In the other pool, Scotland will host Japan and France at Murrayfield and face Italy in Rome. The matches will be played over four consecutive weekends with finals day on December 5, when the winner of Pool A would face the winner of Pool B, second in Pool A would meet second in Pool B, and third playing third and fourth against fourth. Official confirmation of the schedule and the venues is expected in August.
England’s Premiership Rugby have already voiced their discontent with the dates and the French League (LNR) are sure to follow suit. Both have been critical of the way in which the talks about the rescheduled calendar have been conducted and the Premiership say seven weekends of international matches is too many.
“Premiership Rugby and its clubs have already offered compromises and agreed to stretch the international window from four weekends to six, offering a solution that would allow the completion of the Six Nations tournament, accommodate an extra game with England v Barbarians, and allow for the four international matches in the November window,” it said in a statement. “The Premiership has also agreed to start the 2020-21 Premiership Rugby season during the 2020 international window, on November 20, to allow the campaign to be completed before next summer’s Lions tour (of South Africa).
“So a further temporary amendment to regulation nine, which governs player release for Test matches, for weekends in December, would have a further impact on the Premiership and needs to be avoided.” Whether spectators will be allowed to attend the internationals has yet to be decided.
There are several pilot schemes being hosted at the moment from cricket at The Oval — 1000 members only were permitted — to the final day of Glorious Goodwood racing Festival this Saturday where 4000 will be allowed in but a maximum of 500 in eight enclosures. The Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney has said he hoped 40,000 fans could be allowed in to Twickenham, which has a capacity of 82,000, but The Times suggests the limit will be 28,000. – AFP