World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte says a decision on whether the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa will go ahead will be made at the end of March.
In addition to the Lions’ tour of South Africa, the Wallabies are set to host France in a three-Test series while the All Blacks are scheduled to face Italy and Fiji throughout July.
However, all the mid-year international series are under threat due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Laporte now admitting World Rugby will wait until the end of next month decide the Test schedule can go ahead as planned.
‘We decided at World Rugby to firstly take a decision if the tours will take place, or not, at the end of March,’ Laporte told RMC Sport.
‘Because we need time to turn things around but I sincerely think France will go to Australia, Italy will go to New Zealand seeing they are the two trips posing questions. The Lions, too, of course,’ he added.
With concerns persisting in South Africa around Covid-19 and hosting the Lions tour with fans, Rugby Australia has offered to host the Lions tour. But while Laporte is not opposed to a venue change for the Test series between the Springboks and Lions, he revealed that he’d preferred Europe as the alternative venue.
Laporte says the biggest logistical concern of Australia hosting France as well as the Lions tour, is the country’s quarantine policy.
‘They [the Lions] might play in Europe and it would be a good thing,’ he said.
‘If we’re told that we have to quarantine [in Australia] for 14 days in a room, it’s not possible. Because, we [France] arrive the day after the Top 14 final to [prepare to] play the first game,’ he added.
If any of the series scheduled for the mid-year Test window are to be cancelled, Laporte said there’s a possibility that they might arrange international friendlies to help ease financial concerns and help build momentum ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.
‘If they tell us “you can’t go to the Southern Hemisphere and they can’t come here”… We can talk and say “why not play friendlies again between us”?’
‘Friendlies would be there to make money and because a coach need games two years out from a Rugby World Cup.’
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