England retains hope of autumn tests vs southern hemisphere

England still plans to play rugby against the southern hemisphere opposition in November, with the first Six Nations at home and away from the backup options for the fall.

The international rugby calendar has been reversed by the coronavirus outbreak, with this year's Six Nations not yet completed, the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship is unlikely to start on schedule in August – if it will – and the fate of the lucrative month of November test equipment still on the air.

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"The preference of the north and south is for the original program to go ahead" Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the England Rugby Football Union, said the autumn internationals on Thursday.

“But, of course, this is motivated by international travel restrictions and guidelines. We are both developing our own backup and contingency plans for this. "

England, which is scheduled to play New Zealand, Tonga, Australia and Argentina on successive weekends in Twickenham in November, has the highest official daily death rate of any country in Europe today.

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Blocking restrictions are gradually being eased, but social detachment guidelines still exist and air passengers arriving in Britain from Monday face a mandatory two-week quarantine period. Although some sports have started, there is no imminent prospect of rugby in the country.

The countries that make up the Six Nations – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – have been looking for alternative ideas if countries in the southern hemisphere do not visit in November. One is to expand the Six Nations schedule, so that the 2021 edition starts this fall and the teams play each other at home and away for the first time in the competition's history.

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The proposal was raised by Italian rugby leaders in a conference call on Wednesday, and Sweeney confirmed that it was one of the options evaluated.

"It's possible," Sweeney said.

“Our plans are for an autumn series – against whom, at the moment, we cannot be 100% sure. But we are planning to hold autumn internationals. "

Given the restrictions still in place in Britain, the RFU cannot be sure whether Twickenham would be closed to viewers if the November tests continue.

Sweeney the referred scenarios were elaborated for four possible models: games in empty stadiums, games with guidelines of social distance of one or two meters and games in full stadiums.

"It goes back to the topic of living in a world of uncertainty, doesn't it?" he asked.

Sweeney talks on a new global calendar, which bring the countries of the northern and southern hemisphere to combined tournaments, have been underway for more than two months.

The discussions take place four or five times a week, he said.

"If we can overcome this in any way or form that comes, it will be a great achievement that this crisis has allowed us, or facilitated us, to arrive," he said. Sweeney, who is one of six people in a working group on the subject.

Sweeney had previously said that even if the autumn tests continue, the RFU will still lose about 32 million pounds ($ 40 million) in revenue in the next financial year.

He stressed on Thursday that "it is not a 12-month roadblock and a return to normality very quickly".

"This is a much more long-term fix," he said. "The consequences and impact of this crisis will be with us for a considerable time and, depending on the scenario chosen, it will be three, four or five years, or maybe a little longer."

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