World Rugby has called off the tour matches in the southern hemisphere in July and plans to consult with various stakeholders, including clubs, before rearranging them later in the year when it hopes travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus will have eased.
England were due to visit Japan, where Wales were to start at the end of next month before travelling to New Zealand, Ireland had a series in Australia and Scotland were scheduled to face the World Cup holders South Africa.
“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,” said World Rugby in a statement.
“Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in full collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities. All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and international players, will be involved in the continued 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.”
World Rugby has been looking at staging the tours in October just before the start of the November internationals in Europe, with all the major unions hit hard financially by sport’s lockdown. Australia, which has made significant cuts, has received more than £7m from World Rugby’s emergency relief fund.
“The financial implications of the virus have been significant for us and this emergency relief funding will provide us with certainty for the next 12 months and enable us to close off our 2019 accounts,” said Rugby Australia’s acting chief executive, Rob Clarke.
“The funding, in combination with the extensive cuts made across the business, provides us with the short-term impetus to see through the pandemic but does not solve all of the challenges.”