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International rugby schedule up in the air with Ireland's Australia tour 'highly unlikely' to go ahead

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Covid 19 has had a big impact on the sporting world

Covid 19 has had a big impact on the sporting world

SPORTSFILE

Covid 19 has had a big impact on the sporting world

Ireland's summer tour of Australia is now "highly unlikely" to go ahead and officials Down Under are warning that the impact of the current shut-down could even affect the November internationals.

Speaking overnight, Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said talks with World Rugby about solving rugby's fixture crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are ongoing.

Ireland are scheduled to play the Wallabies in Brisbane on July 4 and Sydney seven days later, but those matches are expected to be cancelled in the coming days.

European officials hope to run off the club tournaments over the summer if government restrictions on public gatherings ease in the months to come, with Irish players planning for a July season.

The cancellation of the summer tour would help facilitate that, but it would be a major blow to Rugby Australia's finances.

However, if the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby are moved to later in the year that could drastically hit the IRFU and other European unions' finances, with South Africa and Australia due in Dublin in November.

However, it could open up a couple of windows to play the postponed Six Nations games against Italy and France without impacting on the club season.

"The July Test matches are looking less and less likely as the days go by but that will ultimately be a decision that is made in consultation with World Rugby," Castle said.

"It's multi-faceted, there's the conversations that will happen at a World Rugby level so we can think about, if July doesn't go ahead, which seems highly unlikely now, and the reciprocal window is available at the back end of this year.

"Whether that means Australia going north to play those games or whether there's other elements that we need to consider to look after sponsors and broadcasters to deliver content.

"At the back end of the year delivering Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship might be something we need to consider doing.

"There's those elements around the calendar from a World Rugby point of view."

Australia's rugby players are following the Irish lead in accepting a 30-50% paycut as a result of the stoppage.

Everyone working across Irish rugby agreed pay deferrals of between 10 and 50% for the duration of the crisis, with chief executive Philip Browne warning that a prolonged shut down extending into the autumn would have a major consequences on the union.

Online Editors