Rugby Australia chief eyes salvaging All Black Tests

SYDNEY (AFP) – Rugby Australia Chief Raelene Castle has raised hopes the Wallabies can face the All Blacks later this year, salvaging some Tests from the sport’s coronavirus-ravaged international calendar.

Castle conceded that Ireland and Fiji were unlikely to tour Australia in July, while international travel restrictions mean Rugby Championship matches featuring South Africa and Argentina are also in doubt.

But she said both Australia and New Zealand had enjoyed early success in containing COVID-19, raising the prospect Bledisloe Cup matches between the Wallabies and All Blacks could proceed.

“We’re most likely to open up trans-Tasman borders first because both our governments have taken quite a similar approach to this and really got this under control,” Castle told the official rugby.com.au website.

There are three Bledisloe Cup Tests planned, one each in Melbourne and Wellington in August, then Brisbane in October.

Castle said they could still go ahead even if they were delayed.

“We’d like to think we could continue to deliver those and they’re probably looking at later into that October or November time frame,” she said.

Castle said a domestic Super Rugby competition of up to 12 rounds could precede the Bledisloe series.

“Hopefully a five or six team home-and-away competition that can give some real substance to finishing off what we started at the beginning of the year and really get the players back on the field,” she said.