World Rugby: Pacific tour matches could be switched to New Zealand

Concerns over Wales summer tour to Pacific islands

World Rugby have moved to allay fears that Wales's 2017 South Pacific tour is in doubt because of concerns over facilities and medical cover.

Tests were scheduled in Samoa and Tonga in June, but they have confirmed games could yet be moved to New Zealand.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) say it wants to play on the islands, but will pursue alternatives if guarantees over player welfare are not met.

"There is no issue with Samoa as a venue," World Rugby told BBC Wales.

Wales are scheduled to play against Samoa on 24 June 2017 at Apia Park, Apia.

The sport's governing body helps tier two countries meet costs of hosting tier one nations.

World Rugby helped with appropriate medical cover when New Zealand played Samoa in Apia in 2015.

A delegation from World Rugby is scheduled to travel to Tonga and Samoa to assess whether facilities in each country are fit for purpose.

"Several other international sides have played in Samoa successfully in recent years," World Rugby explained.

"As regards Tonga, a new venue is due to be constructed there and we need to assess whether it will be completed in time for the fixture to take place as planned.

Samoa v New Zealand in June 2015
New Zealand beat Samoa 25-15 in Apia on 8 July, 2015

"In addition, from a due diligence point of view, we will be conducting a site visit in Tonga within the coming weeks to ensure that other facilities in Tonga are of the appropriate level to host a match of this nature.

"This would include accommodation, training facilities and medical provisions. As always, our number-one priority is player welfare.

"No decision has yet been taken on this. By way of contingency, it is possible the match could take place in Auckland if we cannot proceed with Tonga."

The original itinerary for Wales' tour was thought to include a third Test in Fiji, but BBC Wales understands this is no longer part of the schedule.

Fans and travel companies are currently in a state of limbo, with hundreds having registered for the tour.

Wales last toured the Pacific Islands in 1994.

The WRU say it expects a final decision to be made by the end of October.

A spokesman for the Samoan Rugby Union said: "At this stage we can't comment as the match has not yet been confirmed by World Rugby."

The Tongan Rugby Union has also been asked to comment, but has not yet responded.