The Six Nations will be completed in the final two weeks of October before the autumn international series is played over four weeks if a recommendation by World Rugby’s executive committee is accepted by its council on 30 July.
The doubling of the Test window is designed to make up for the loss of the tours that were scheduled to take place in the south this month.
By agreeing to the recommendation for both the men’s and women’s tournaments, the council will be making a temporary change to the rules governing player release, obliging clubs to supply players for the entire block.
The autumn fixtures will be decided in the coming weeks but it is likely to be an all-European affair, although a Pacific Islands team could be assembled with many of their players involved in the Premiership, Pro 14 or Top 14, with the Rugby Championship set to be played in one country for five weeks from 7 November.
The restart of the Six Nations will coincide with the Premiership final on 24 October, but as it is likely to be the match between Ireland and Italy at the Aviva Stadium, there is little scope for a dispute over player release. The concluding round would be played in its entirety the following week before a rest weekend preceding the autumn campaign which will end on 5 December.
“The temporary windows have been determined following extensive and productive consultation with international competitions, national unions, professional club competitions and international players,” said World Rugby in a statement. “The rescheduling means clubs will have access to their star southern hemisphere players for the completion of their seasons when they would ordinarily have been on international duty.”
Wales will not play their matches at the Principality Stadium as it is set to continue to be used as a surge hospital. The outstanding Six Nations match against Scotland and their other fixtures will either be played elsewhere in Wales or in the London area, depending on whether fans will be allowed back into grounds by then.
“The most difficult scenario will be if crowds are allowed in England but not in Wales,” said the Welsh Rugby Union chief executive, Martyn Phillips. “There are clearly a range of risks, not least Welsh fans leaving the country for a match and then returning.”
The Premiership is on course to resume on 14 August. The latest round of testing on Monday saw two positive results from 896 players and staff, players from different clubs, down from nine last week and 10 on 6 July.
More information: THE GUARDIAN.