Six Nations - England

RFU chief says England tour of Japan could be moved to October

England could alter their schedule for 2020 and move their July tour of Japan to October, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has said.

A return to the recent World Cup hosts will see two Tests played in Oita on July 4 and Kobe a week later.

But the ongoing global health crisis which has seen rugby come to a standstill, has left the RFU contemplating its schedule with England yet to play their final fixture of this year’s Six Nations against Italy.

That fixture together with the Japan tour and England’s home autumn international series leave the RFU with little room to work with, but Sweeney said October was a viable option for a re-arranged summer tour.

“We could possibly go there in October,” Sweeney told BBC. “That’s one option, because obviously they’d rather host, they make more money when they host, and we’d come back and play our autumns (internationals).”

England are set to host New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga at Twickenham this autumn. But anticipating travel restrictions to still be in place, Sweeney floated the idea of an unprecendented second Six Nations.

“We’d want to do something to fill our gap so we’re looking at a range of different contingencies,” Sweeney added.

“An obvious one is: Do you stage a Six Nations in the autumn but link it into the Six Nations the next year, and you have a home and away series?”

The Six Nations title is still up for grabs between England, France, Scotland and Ireland.

After having their Grand Slam hopes dashed by Scotland in a 28-17 defeat at Murrayfield, France would be able to claim the title if England were defeat by Italy in Rome.

After finishing as finalists at the World Cup, England head coach Eddie Jones said he was excited to travel back to Japan.

“The England squad had a fantastic experience of the country and we are excited to return,” Jones said.

“The Japan national team have shown again how good a side they are with their performances during the World Cup and I know they will provide a great test for us in July.”

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