Australia-Ireland July Test series looking 'increasingly unlikely'

Robbie Henshaw and Samu Kerevi
Robbie Henshaw prepares to tackle Samu Kerevi as Ireland beat Australia 2-1 in the 2018 summer Test series

Prospects of the scheduled summer Tests between Australia and Ireland being played look increasingly unlikely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The sides were to play a two-Test series in Brisbane and Sydney in July.

"The July Test matches are looking less and less likely as the days go by," Rugby Australia chief executive officer Raelene Castle said on Monday.

"But that will ultimately be a decision that is made in consultation with World Rugby."

Indefinite travel bans, and bans on large public gatherings, have all put a halt to rugby around the world with no clear end date in site.

Australia are also scheduled to face Fiji in the summer, but Castle concedes that the matches were "highly unlikely" to go ahead, while November's fixtures in Europe could also be sacrificed to complete Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.

The domestic rugby season in Ireland has already been cancelled, with some doubt surrounding the conclusion of the Champions Cup and Pro14, which may need to play games through the summer.

July Tests a long shot - Browne

The proposed games against Australia would be Ireland's first encounters with the Wallabies since Joe Schmidt led his squad to a three-Test series win down under in 2018.

It is scheduled to be Andy Farrell's first overseas tour as coach, but with the Six Nations incomplete, it is possible that tour matches in the summer and autumn will take a back seat as unions look to complete club competitions and their primary international competitions.

Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne has also indicated, speaking to the Irish Times, that the July Tests being played would be "a long shot".

"It appears to be a long shot that the July tours will go ahead but we won't be making that decision. That decision will be made for us by the public health authorities," he said.

Browne predicted a call would be made on the tours by the end of next month.

He explained: "It's got to be made in the next couple of weeks. They can't push it out much further than that I would imagine. Certainly by the end of April we'd need to have some clarity."

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