Ireland look set to host Wales in Dublin as the final touches are put on an eight-team winter tournament which will replace the November internationals.
As reported previously in the Irish Independent, World Rugby are aiming to run the tournament over four consecutive weekends beginning on November 14, two weeks after the completion of the Six Nations, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak in March.
A World Rugby Council vote on the extended international window is expected on Thursday with official confirmation around dates and venues for the winter tournament expected in the coming weeks. Fiji and Japan are expected to join the Six Nations teams in two groups of four and it was reported yesterday that Ireland will be in a group with England, Wales and Fiji.
After playing each other once, the teams will face their corresponding-ranked side in the other pool – France, Scotland, Italy and Japan – on the final weekend, December 5.
All three European nations, look set to play Fiji at home with England pencilled in to face Ireland at Twickenham; Wales are set to host England at a venue which has yet to be confirmed, meaning Ireland look likely to host to Wales.
The outstanding final round of Six Nations matches – Wales v Scotland, France v Ireland and Italy v England – has been scheduled for October 31 with the other postponed fixture, Ireland v Italy, taking place the week before.
Official confirmation of those fixtures is expected by next week.
England lead the standings on points difference from France, although Ireland could leapfrog them both by winning their game in hand with a four-try bonus point.
Any decision over whether crowds will be allowed at matches will be up to the respective government policies, however Wales have already stated that they do not expect to host any matches at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff until next year’s Six Nations. They may opt to play at Liberty Stadium or Cardiff City Stadium.