Six Nations organisers have confirmed rescheduled fixtures and are “hugely excited” to complete the delayed 2020 tournament, as well as also plans for a one-off, eight-team expanded autumn Test series. Admitting fans remains under consideration but there are no signs of a decision in this latest announcement.
England will take on Italy in Rome and Wales will host Scotland, both on 31 October as the men’s Six Nations can finally be completed after the coronavirus shutdown. Ireland will host Italy in Dublin on 24 October, before travelling to Paris to face France on 31 October. Wales are expected to take on Scotland at Twickenham, though there is still no official confirmation.
Fiji and Japan are understood to be joining the Six Nations sides for the expanded autumn schedule. The Women’s Six Nations will be completed across the weekends of 24 October, 31 October and 5 December.
“We are absolutely thrilled to make this announcement today,” said the Six Nations’ chief executive, Ben Morel. “Whilst the past few months have been extremely challenging, we have always remained hopeful of concluding this year’s tournament and we are really looking forward to the final games in the men’s and women’s championships. There is still so much to play for, and we are hugely excited for what lies ahead.
“Public health remains the number one priority and while we must continue to be vigilant and cognisant of the dynamic and fast changing external environment, we are nonetheless extremely pleased to be moving in the right direction.”
The Six Nations Under-20s tournament will not be completed, however, with no team crowned champions for 2020.
Six Nations organisers are still working to determine whether supporters will be able to attend matches. “In rescheduling these matches, the health and safety of players, associated staff and supporters has been at the forefront of our thinking,” read a Six Nations statement.
“We remain in close contact with all relevant authorities across the respective jurisdictions to ensure these matches take place in a safe environment and we will announce further details of health and safety protocols and guidance on spectator attendance in due course.
“With regards to the U20 Six Nations championship, due to season scheduling constraints, it was decided that the three outstanding matches would not be played and there would be no winner for the 2020 Championship.”
In confirming plans for the eight-team autumn Test tournament, Six Nations chiefs conceded this would prove a one-off event due to the coronavirus impact. “In recent weeks, Six Nations has also been progressing contingency plans for an alternative tournament format in place of the Autumn Internationals for 2020, primarily driven by travel restrictions not allowing many international teams to play the scheduled matches,” read the statement.
“This tournament will be a unique eight-team competition, involving the Six Nations unions and two other international teams. We are currently finalising match schedules, operational details including venues as well as commercial arrangements. Further announcements relating to this competition are expected to be made later this month.”