World Rugby has given the go-ahead for the Rugby Championship to go ahead from November 7 in New Zealand during an expanded international window between October 24 and December 12.
The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted airline travel and closed borders, causing the cancellation of the big southern hemisphere teams’ annual tours of Europe and put rugby on hold around the world.
Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who were all set to play in Europe in October and November, will now play the delayed Rugby Championship in a five-week window from November 7.
But instead of the usual home-and-away matches, New Zealand has been asked by SANZAAR to host the competition.
New Zealand has been playing a Super Rugby spin-off tournament to packed stadiums since June.
The incomplete Six Nations can play four postponed men’s matches and six women’s matches on October 24 and 31.
The new window that obliges clubs to release players for their country is usually confined to November, but with no major rugby since March and national unions in deepening debt, the window has been enlarged from October 24 to the second weekend of December.
England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales have proposed a tournament with Japan and Fiji.
Whether spectators are allowed to attend depends on health protocols in each country.
“Special measures will need to be implemented to deal with any government-required isolation period prior to the start of the competition,” World Rugby said.
“Approval follows extensive and productive dialogue between the sport’s major stakeholders, balancing the interests of the international game, the professional club game and player welfare to determine a schedule that will optimise the immediate financial recovery and funding of the sport at all levels.”
World Rugby added it was also talking with tier two unions about helping them to put together fixtures where COVID-19 restrictions permit.