International rugby will go through the smallest of changes in 2020 with the mid-year Test window relocating from June to July.
This latest development could spell bad news for South Africa, with the top four European sides all having fairly packed schedules, if all the rumours are true.
Australia are expected to unveil their own schedule shortly, which should see the Wallabies play Ireland (twice) and Fiji.
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Factor in the latest news from ARN, which suggests that France will play two games in Argentina then return home via Japan, and suddenly South Africa’s opposition cupboard is looking incredibly bare.
Of the Six Nations teams, all six already have matches lined up (confirmed or rumoured) for July. There are a few gaps in the calendar, of course; Ireland, Wales and England will all likely play an extra match.
In anticipation of facing the same opposition in the same match that secured them the 2007 World Cup title this weekend, we look at where the Springboks stars of 12 years ago are today. #RWC2019 https://t.co/Ir3b2VsCOB
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 29, 2019
It would be unusual for any of those sides to travel all the way to South Africa for just one game, however, after already spending two weeks in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, respectively.
Scotland or Italy could be South Africa’s saving grace – they both still have two spots left in their schedule – but it would be a major blow to the World Cup finalists to not host one of the big four Northern Hemisphere sides.
It should also be concerning for Springboks fans that England have confirmed 2020 end-of-year matches against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina – which means that there won’t be a World Cup final rematch next season.
The current holes in the calendar could point to a number of games between tier one and tier two teams, which will come as a great relief to many fans around the world.
There’s been plenty of discussion regarding how the likes of Japan and Fiji can be better integrated into the current Test calendar and it looks like 2020 will kick off with at least a few inter-tier fixtures.
At this stage, at least, it looks like South Africa could be the nation that loses out the most thanks to the changing programme.
Speaking of rumours, it sounds like Dave Rennie coaching the Wallabies from 2020 is a done deal:
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