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Fiji and Japan to join Six Nations teams in new tournament

Japan players celebrate victory after the Rugby World Cup 2019 against Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama on October 13, 2019. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Fiji and Japan will line up alongside the Six Nations sides in an eight-team international rugby union competition in Europe in November and December.

The BBC reports the competition will replace the traditional end-of-year tours of Europe by southern hemisphere teams, as international rugby works around the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament is to start on November 14, two weeks after this year’s postponed Six Nations is completed.

The move comes a week after World Rugby announced a temporary international Test match window between October 24 and December 5.

Official confirmation of the schedule and the venues is expected next month.

But reports indicate England will face Wales, Ireland and Fiji in Group 1 of the new competition, while Japan will join Scotland, Italy and France in Group 2. The tournament will be staged on four consecutive weekends until December 5, with each team facing their equivalent in the other pool on the final weekend, with the venue to be decided.

No announcement has been made yet on whether the games will be played behind closed doors or in front of limited crowds.

The southern hemisphere’s main annual Test match tournament, the Rugby Championship, is being lined up to be played in full in a single country over a six-week period between November 7 and December 12.

New Zealand, with its success in containing Covid-19, has been identified as the preferred destination for the tournament.