By NZ Herald

The All Blacks‘ end of year tour looks to be in major doubt with a new eight-team tournament reportedly being planned featuring the Six Nations teams as well as guest countries Japan and Fiji to be played in November.

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The All Blacks were set to face England in London on November 7 followed by games against Wales and then Scotland, but the coronavirus pandemic has cast doubt over scheduled rugby tours.

According to The Telegraph, Japan and Fiji are expected to join the Six Nations sides in a new eight-team tournament to be played in November and December.

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A World Rugby council meeting to vote on allowing international rugby to continue, which was initially scheduled for today, was postponed until mid-July.

However, The Telegraph reports “the most likely option” was that the new eight-team tournament would replace scheduled games against southern hemisphere sides due to Covid-19 restrictions and the delayed start of the Rugby Championship.

The new-look tournament would reportedly consist of two pools of four to be played in November, with winners of each pool meeting in a final on December 5.

The tournament would be another blow to the All Blacks and Ian Foster’s first year in charge, with home tests against Wales and Scotland in July already scrapped due to the pandemic, while the future of the Rugby Championship remains up in the air.

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The most likely tests to happen this year looks to be an increased Bledisloe Cup series against Australia, but hopes of a trans-Tasman bubble has also been in doubt because of increased infections in Melbourne and Victoria.

World Rugby’s solution to the international calendar issue has been met with opposition from French and English clubs who objected to proposals to move the July window for tests to October to create a new international series.

This article first appeared in nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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