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World Rugby postpones July internationals, gives Rugby Australia funding boost

Australia's Will Genia in action during the Rugby World Cup quarter final match against England (Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

World Rugby has announced the postponement of international matches planned for July on the advice of government and health agencies.

World Rugby said the decision has been taken due to ongoing travel and quarantine restrictions in numerous countries, as well as concerns over adequate player preparation time.

The sport’s global governing body will continue to work with stakeholders and the respective authorities on the potential impact Covid-19 will have on the rest of the 2020 international schedule.

The announcement means that England’s tour of Japan will not go ahead. Wales had also been due to tour Japan and New Zealand, with Scotland due to travel to South Africa and New Zealand, and Ireland scheduled to play in Australia.

“All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and international rugby players will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year,” World Rugby said in a statement.

“All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby.”

Meanwhile, World Rugby has agreed to allocate an initial £26.5m (€29.8m/$32.2m) relief package to the unions in greatest immediate need of support. This initial allocation is in line with the global £75m Covid-19 relief strategy previously announced to assist federations through to the eventual resumption of the sport.

The immediate allocation of £26.5m has been agreed following a detailed independent evaluation and subsequent approval of union applications by the World Rugby Executive Committee.

Rugby Australia confirmed today (Friday) that it had secured A$14.2m (€8.4m/$9.1m) from World Rugby as part of the Covid-19 relief strategy. Rugby Australia’s interim chief executive Rob Clarke said the financial implications of the Covid-19 crisis have been “significant” for the body, with the relief funding to provide the organisation with certainty over the next 12 months and enable it to close off its 2019 accounts.

World Rugby’s relief fund is being made available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding, subject to appropriate criteria being met. It is designed to assist the maximum number of unions for the maximum amount of time.

World Rugby said that for Six Nations and Sanzaar unions, the financial package will involve a combination of advances and loans. World Rugby has also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations were required.