Coronavirus: Wales looking at alternative summer tour date options

Gareth Davies is a former Wales captain who played 21 times for his country between 1978 and 1985
Gareth Davies is a former Wales captain who played 21 times for his country between 1978 and 1985

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies says contingency plans are being discussed about postponing Wales summer tour to later in 2020.

Wales are due to travel to face Japan on 27 June before two Tests against New Zealand in July.

These matches are under threat because of the coronavirus crisis with Davies expecting an official decision by the end of April.

"There are contingency plans going on," said Davies.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has hinted England could move their summer tour of Japan to October and raised the idea of an extra Six Nations tournament if autumn internationals could not be completed.

The 2020 Six Nations was suspended with England having one game to play, away to Italy, which is yet to be rescheduled.

Three other matches in the championship have not been played - two for Ireland, against Italy and France, plus the game between Wales and Scotland.

Wales are due to host New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Fiji in their 2020 autumn international programme.

"If we can't go down to the southern hemisphere in June and July it means a loss of income for the southern hemisphere countries," said Davies.

"Could we go later in the year, maybe in October? But you will have situations then with the club game then so nothing is easy.

"There are ongoing discussions and this week I have been on four or five World Rugby calls to discuss various things

Rugby star Jamie Roberts, a qualified doctor, speaks of his voluntary role in the NHS.

"The calendar is the burning issue at the moment because that is what drives incomes for the various Unions around the world.

"The underlying issue is professional sport is probably going to be the last area to be relaxed because major events rely on mass gatherings. Having a full stadium is probably the last thing that will come through.

"The other complexity to anybody being able to predict to when various games are going to be played is this virus is acting in a different way and speed in different parts of the world.

"While we could be clear in the northern hemisphere by, say August and September, it does not mean the whole world is."

Davies says the summer tour plans will be finalised in the next few weeks with the June and July programme unlikely to go ahead.

"It is increasingly likely they will now be under threat and we will announce by the end of April one way or another," said Davies.

"We are having discussions through World Rugby and Six Nations directly with New Zealand and Japan and a decision will be made towards the end of the month.

"The Tests are still officially on but we can't see an end to this (pandemic) at the moment.

"That (Tests being called off) would have huge implications in particular for the southern hemisphere countries because their June or July window is devoid of any income again which is pretty tough on them."

The pandemic has affected every aspect of Welsh rugby with the announcement this week the players are taking a 25 percent pay cut.

"Everybody at the Welsh Rugby Union in terms of senior staff have taken a 25 percent pay cut so that was the lead I suppose," said Davies.

"It is different for the players because they have short-term contracts and careers and it is not as simple as just saying they are taking a cut.

"There are players that are injured and out of contract at the end of this season so it was quite a complex scenario the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) were faced with.

"I think they got to a sensible position in terms of everybody understanding the severity of the current position. Everybody is relieved that has been completed."

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