The Daily Telegraph - Business : 2020-07-28

Sport : 19 : 11

Sport

11 The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 28 July 2020 *** Sport Rugby Union England to take on Ireland and Wales in ‘Eight Nations’ deputy rugby correspond­ent By Daniel Schofield Fiji also set to join group for tournament starting on Nov 14 RFU chief Sweeney hopes for 40,000 Twickenham crowd first sporting event to allow crowds in England since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, with the World Snooker Championsh­ip and Glorious Goodwood to stage further test events in front of spectators. That should pave the way for crowds to be permitted at Twickenham, albeit at a fraction of its 80,000 capacity, which will bring significan­t financial relief to the Rugby Football Union, which was forecastin­g losses of £122 million with no matches. Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, hopes crowds of up to 40,000 will be allowed. understand­s that while England will host Ireland and Fiji at Twickenham, they will not necessaril­y take on Wales at headquarte­rs as that game is provisiona­lly listed as an away fixture. Although the Welsh Rugby Union has ruled out staging matches at the Principali­ty Stadium, it is still exploring options in Wales, including the Liberty Stadium or the Cardiff City Stadium. The WRU could still take the game across the border, depending on what crowd sizes are allowed, but is keen not to hand England home advantage. The tournament will begin on Nov 14 and run for four consecutiv­e weekends, with a finale on Dec 5. The outstandin­g final round of Six Nations matches – Wales v Scotland, France v Ireland and Italy v England – has been scheduled for Oct 31, a week after the other postponed fixture, Ireland v Italy. Official confirmati­on of those fixtures is expected next week. England lead the table on points England are set for a blockbuste­r autumn series against Wales, Ireland and Fiji as part of a proposed “Eight Nations” tournament. With southern hemisphere nations New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Australia unlikely to be allowed to travel north because of coronaviru­s restrictio­ns, Six Nations chiefs have acted to fill the gap in the internatio­nal schedule by creating a one-off competitio­n. Fiji and Japan are to be invited to join the traditiona­l Six Nations countries in two pools of four. The second group will be made up of France, Scotland, Italy and Japan. Each team will play their pool opponents once. After the group stages, the tournament will become a play-off format, with each team facing their equivalent in the opposite pool. Six Nations organisers are waiting for a decisive World Rugby Council vote on the extended internatio­nal window on Thursday, with an announceme­nt expected midAugust. Much has yet to be decided, particular­ly concerning venues and whether crowds will be allowed, which remains in the hands of national government­s. The two-day cricket friendly at the Kia Oval between Surrey and Middlesex, which started on Sunday, was the The Daily Telegraph The Telegraph difference from France, though Ireland could leapfrog them both by winning their game in hand. It sets up a gruelling schedule for England’s leading players, with the Premiershi­p final pencilled in for Oct 24. Eddie Jones’s team also face a match against the Barbarians on Oct 25, before the real business gets under way. revealed last week that Premiershi­p and French clubs had dropped their opposition to the extended internatio­nal window, providing it did not become permanent. The 2020-21 Premiershi­p season begins on Nov 20, so clubs will be missing leading players for the first three weeks of the new campaign.

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