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Scotland rugby test matches in South Africa and New Zealand called off due to Covid-19 - but return to domestic training being considered

By Craig Christie

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STEPS are being made to safely return to rugby training, but Scotland's tour of South Africa and New Zealand has been called off.

Scotland's tour of South Africa and New Zealand is off.
Scotland's tour of South Africa and New Zealand is off.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Rugby governing body said a phased resumption of training is being considered and would follow any public health guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

All Scotland’s professional rugby players were placed on furlough in April and were advised no directed training would be required during May.

Rugby chiefs have also announced the postponement of Scotland's summer test matches in the southern hemisphere in light of the international impact of COVID-19.

The combination of local public health restrictions which has seen extensive lockdown periods and an inability to play competitive sport aligned with global travel restrictions contributed to the decision to postpone all international rugby fixtures scheduled for July announced by World Rugby.

Scotland were due to play two tests against the 2019 world champions South Africa in Cape Town on July 4 and Durban on July 11 before facing the All Blacks in Dunedin on July 18.

Scotland head coach, Gregor Townsend said: “It has been clear to our players, staff and supporters that the significant impact of COVID-19 across the world has meant international travel at this time was going to be very unlikely in the coming months and so it has proved.

“As a team we were generating some positive momentum in the Six Nations and we were all looking forward to the exciting challenge of playing the world champions, and the All Blacks, on their home soil this summer.

“As a tour it would have provided an excellent learning experience, but we fully understand the reasons why it can’t go ahead.

“We wish the players, staff and families of both South Africa and New Zealand well at this difficult time and look forward to testing ourselves against them in the future.”

World Rugby’s statement said: “The programme of international rugby matches during the 2020 July window has been postponed due to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.

Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

“Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.

“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.

“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.”

Scotland’s final match of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations against Wales was postponed in March and this was shortly followed by the Pro14 and Scotland’s own domestic leagues stopping all fixtures.

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