All Blacks end of year tour appears doomed

The All Blacks end of year tour appears doomed with northern unions reportedly planning an eight-team tournament that will have Japan and Fiji taking on the Six Nations teams.

The All Blacks are scheduled to play England in London on November 7, Wales in Cardiff the following weekend and then Scotland in Edinburgh.

But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the tours in doubt and the Six Nations unions are now looking at a safer alternative.

The Telegraph reported that Japan and Fiji were expected to be confirmed as the two guest nations to join the Six Nations sides in an inaugural eight-team tournament in November and December.

The World Rugby council meeting, which had been scheduled for today to vote on allowing international rugby to be played in October as well as November, had been postponed until mid-July to allow for talks to continue.

Sources indicated to The Telegraph that "the most likely option" was that the new-look tournament would replace the scheduled matches against southern-hemisphere opposition, because of Covid-19 travel restrictions and the delay to the start of the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship.

The quick-fire tournament would consist of two pools of four, with matches played on November 14, 21 and 28.

The winners of each pool would then meet in a final on December 5, with the other nations playing off against each other to decide final placings.

This development would be a further blow to Ian Foster's first year in charge of the All Blacks.

Three home tests against Wales and Scotland in July have already been lost because of the global health crisis and there is much work to be done to get some form of Rugby Championship happening in 2020.

There have bee suggestions of an increased Bledisloe Cup series with Australia as an alternative given their better health environment though hopes of a transTasman bubble operating are being hampered by a return of infections in Melbourne and Victoria.

World Rugby’s hopes of finding a solution to the global calendar dilemma are more difficult with clubs in England and France objecting to proposals to move the July window for test matches to October to create a new international series.