Wales could play seven Tests in TEN weeks this autumn
Wales could play seven Tests in TEN weeks this autumn with Japan fixture set to be chalked off as Wayne Pivac’s side prioritise two-Test series against New Zealand
- Wales could have a heavy fixture list this autumn with seven Tests in ten weeks
- World Rugby is set to officially call of all summer tours due to the coronavirus
- It puts the Japan match at risk and Welsh officials are resigned to losing the tie
- Sources say the priority will be the two-Test series against New Zealand
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Wales could play seven Tests in 10 weeks this autumn – but are resigned to chalking off their summer tour match in Japan completely.
Wayne Pivac’s side were due to play the Brave Blossoms in Shizuoka on June 27 before jetting down to New Zealand.
World Rugby are set to officially call off all international summer tours within the next fortnight, but Sportsmail has learned Wales’ match in Japan is highly unlikely to be re-arranged.
Wales could have a busy autumn with the side set to play seven Test international games
World Rugby are due to announce that all summer international games are to be called off
Sources across the Severn Bridge have indicated the priority will become the two-Test match series against the All Blacks.
The provisional plan is to play those games in New Zealand in October – if government restrictions in both countries allow international travel.
Wales’ Japan match was to be played with a rotated squad, and is viewed as a non-essential, extra fixture.
It will mean that Wales’ fixture against the Japanese in Shizuoka will be cancelled
Welsh officials remain hopeful that the two-Test series against New Zealand will go ahead
‘There is no plan to play Japan once the tours are called off,’ a source told Sportsmail.
With priority going to two-match series’ then Scotland’s trip to Dunedin to face the All Blacks after their South Africa tour will be in doubt too.
England and Ireland have two-match tours scheduled against Japan and Australia respectively and hope to complete them in full too in October as part of unions’ ‘Plan A’ of rescheduling Tests after the coronavirus pandemic has hopefully eased its grip on the world.
The idea – as Sportsmail has previously reported – would be for nations to complete their overseas tours, then have a short break before finishing the 2020 Six Nations on Saturday October 31. Ireland and Italy have two Championship matches to complete, the rest have one each.
The autumn pile-up will see Wales meet South Africa for the first time since the World Cup semi finals
Then they would go straight into the usual autumn international programme at home.
For Wales that would mean seven Tests in 10 around weeks – with matches against New Zealand (two away, one home), Scotland, Fiji, Argentina and the world-champion Springboks.
If ‘Plan A’ is not possible – as restrictions are still in place – then ‘Plan B’ is to stage a ‘second Six Nations’, as Sportsmail revealed at the start of the month.
A major problem, though, is that fans might not be allowed to attend these autumn games and European Cup organisers EPCR are against Tests taking their usual October slot.
Money will talk, though. Cardiff international makes the WRU around £5m, and a Twickenham game boosts RFU coffers by around £10m.
The Principality Stadium has been converted into a hospital to look after coronavirus patients
‘We need to generate cash, and the international game generates the most cash,’ said an international union source.
If games have to be played behind closed doors the Principality Stadium may not be used for Wales Tests.
Cardiff City Stadium or Swansea’s Liberty Stadium options if it is deemed the 74,000-steater national ground is unusable or unnecessarily large with no fans present.
‘Every idea is on the table,’ said another source.
The Principality Stadium is being used as ‘Dragon’s Heart Hospital’ – which started taking COVID-19 patients a fortnight ago – and the Vale of Glamorgan hotel, where Wales teams live and train during international periods, is also now a field hospital.
Both converted back into rugby facilities which would cause further delays.
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