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England’s Contingency Plan For Tests

  • 3 min read

England’s historic tour of Japan may be pushed back three months to October if their two tests in July are cancelled due to coronavirus.

England have a two-Test tour of Japan in July however while that will almost certainly not go ahead the Rugby Football Union chief executive, Bill Sweeney, has revealed England could travel to East Asia in October instead.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Sweeney said the schedule switch remained one of many options as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc within rugby circles.

“We’re looking at a range of different contingencies,” he said.

“We might go there [Japan] in October. It’s all discussion and nothing’s fully nailed down. But one option is we would go down there, because obviously they’d rather host, they make more money when they host, and we’d come back and play our autumn internationals.

“If we weren’t able to travel to each other … we’d want to do something to fill our gap.”

Sweeney revealed another contingency plan being discussed was the possibility of “a Six Nations in the autumn [November] but link it into the Six Nations the next year, and you have a home and away series” should their current end-of-year test schedule be called off.

The implementation of severe travel restrictions worldwide means England’s current November tests against New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia could be cancelled, opening an avenue for second Six Nations to be played this year.

However, three matches from the most recent edition of Europe’s premier international tournament are still to be played after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s likely these fixtures would have to be completed first before any new form of Six Nations competition is undertaken later in the year.

Hosting test matches would provide the RFU with some much needed financial security, with the organisation set to lose up to £50 million over the next 18 months because of the outbreak.

Sweeney and England head coach Eddie Jones are among many high-profile executives within the RFU who have taken pay cuts of more than 25 percent.

A reduction in international match fees for players may soon follow suit, with Sweeney confirming that those conversations are already underway.

“We started that before the crisis hit because that contract is up in the middle of this year,” he said. “We haven’t reached any conclusions yet. But that would obviously be a discussion we’d need to have.”

Although Wales’ top players have agreed to a 25 percent pay cut for the next three months, Sweeney declined to open up about what approach England’s players will take.

“They’re a very reasonable bunch of people,” he said. “We will sit down with them and we’d lay out the situation, we’d look at the financial position, and we’d have a discussion around what we feel is a reasonable figure.”