Six Nations has confirmed the tournament will be completed in October and guidance on potential spectator attendance will follow "in due course".

The World Rugby Council last week approved for Ireland to face Italy on October 24, with the final round of matches taking place a week later.

Ireland will stage bottom side Italy at the Aviva Stadium in a showdown that should have taken place on March 7, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales will take on Scotland on October 31 at a venue that has not yet been confirmed, with England travelling to face Italy at Stadio Olimpico and France doing battle with Ireland at Stade de France on the same day. 

England were above France on points difference when the vast majority of sport worldwide was halted in March and it remains to be seen whether fans will be allowed in to see the conclusion of the competition.

A Six Nations statement released on Wednesday said: "In rescheduling these matches, the health and safety of players, associated staff and supporters has been at the forefront of our thinking.

"We remain in close contact with all relevant authorities across the respective jurisdictions to ensure these matches take place in a safe environment and we will announce further details of health and safety protocols and guidance on spectator attendance in due course."

Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel said: "Public health remains the number one priority and while we must continue to be vigilant and cognisant of the dynamic and fast changing external environment, we are nonetheless extremely pleased to be moving in the right direction."

Ireland matched their famous 2011 Cricket World Cup victory over England as they scored 329 again to take the final match of the one-day series in Southampton. 

Kevin O'Brien - the hero of the historic three-wicket triumph in Bangalore nine years ago - hit the winning run, seeing Ireland home in the final over to end the long wait for a second win over their neighbours.

However, it was opener Paul Stirling and captain Andy Balbirnie who were the architects of this outstanding result, both right-handers making centuries to set up the innings.

England captain Eoin Morgan had earlier hit 106 but suffered a groin injury while batting, forcing him to watch on from a seat inside the empty Ageas Bowl as his side's score of 328 all out was overhauled with seven wickets in hand.

Stirling smashed 142 from 128 deliveries while Balbirnie hit 113, the pair adding 214 runs for the second wicket before a mix-up saw the former, previously dropped twice by James Vince, run out.

The skipper also perished as the finishing line drew closer, lofting Adil Rashid to Sam Billings in the deep, but Harry Tector and O'Brien saw the job through, finishing unbeaten on 29 and 21 respectively.

As well as avoiding being swept in the three-match series, Ireland also claim their first points in the new ICC Cricket World Cup Super League by beating the reigning champions in the format.

England looked set to post an even more challenging target having been put into bat, yet twice undermined their progress by losing wickets in clusters during a sloppy performance.

Jason Roy fell in the first over of the contest, steering Craig Young to second slip, while opening partner Jonny Bairstow departed for four soon after, bowled by Mark Adair. 

Vince (16) also departed inside the opening powerplay to leave the score at 44-3, yet Morgan still opted to go on the attack against the team he used to play for. 

Tom Banton (58) recorded his maiden ODI half-century but played second fiddle to his skipper in a fourth-wicket alliance worth 146, though Morgan's departure led to another mini-collapse. 

From 190-4, England slipped to 216-7. As well as both well-set batsmen, Moeen Ali (one) and the in-form Sam Billings, who picked out mid-on having eased to 19, were also dismissed during a passage of play that proved crucial in the end.

David Willey followed up his unbeaten 47 on Saturday with a career-best ODI score of 51, while Tom Curran finished up 38 not out, but the hosts offered Ireland an opportunity they gratefully seized.

England seamer Reece Topley has been ruled out of Tuesday's final ODI with Ireland because of a left groin strain.

Topley, who had seen a promising international career derailed by a series of stress fractures in his back, took his first ODI wicket for over four years in England's win on Saturday.

That four-wicket success clinched the three-match series for the hosts, but Topley will not be available as England look to complete a 3-0 triumph at the Rose Bowl.

Topley, whose last ODI appearance prior to last weekend's victory came in South Africa in February 2016, enjoyed an impressive return and finished with figures of 1-31.

He will hope to recover in time to produce similar performances in this month's T20 series with Pakistan, which begins on August 28.

Jonny Bairstow equalled England's fastest ODI fifty and helped the hosts to a second consecutive ODI victory over Ireland to settle the series.

England followed up their emphatic Rose Bowl victory on Thursday with a less assured four-wicket win at the same venue on Saturday as they chased down 213. 

The third and final match takes place next week with England now 2-0 up.

Curtis Campher (68) impressed again as he anchored Ireland's innings, with Adil Rashid taking 3-34.

In reply, Bairstow reached his half-century off just 21 balls, equalling captain Eoin Morgan's record, before eventually falling for 82 from 41 deliveries in a knock that contained 14 fours and two sixes.

Following his dismissal, England promptly lost Morgan and Moeen Ali for ducks, leaving them suddenly struggling at 137-6.

But the two stars of the first match, Sam Billings (46 not out) and David Willey (47no), again came to the fore and got the world champions over the line with 17.3 overs to spare.

Joe Denly will miss the rest of England's ODI series with Ireland due to back problems.

The batsman has been struggling with back spasms and was not involved in the first match on Thursday, when England claimed a six-wicket victory.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Friday that Liam Livingstone would take Denly's place in the 14-man squad.

"Joe Denly has been ruled out the Royal London Series against Ireland after suffering back spasms in training on Wednesday," the ECB statement said.

"The Kent batsman has been replaced in the 14-man England ODI squad by Lancashire's Liam Livingstone.

"Livingstone has represented England in two IT20s and would make his ODI debut if selected in one of the final two matches with Ireland."

The second ODI takes place at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, with the third set for next Tuesday.

David Willey's bowling set the tone for a comprehensive six-wicket England win in Thursday's ODI with Ireland, while Sam Billings impressed at the crease as a 173 target was reached with little fuss in the series opener.

England's Test players were unavailable due to their endeavours against West Indies, meaning an entirely different ODI XI was given the chance to prove their credentials, and Willey certainly rose to the occasion.

The 29-year-old was left out of England's World Cup squad last year, but in Southampton he provided a reminder of his qualities with an exceptional 5-30, his first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket.

It did not take Willey long to find his groove, taking out Paul Stirling (2) and Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie (3) in the first three overs.

Three successive fours – which were soon followed by another pair – from Gareth Delany (22) at least gave Ireland a little momentum, but he too fell victim to Willey having just seen Mahmood (2-36) deal with Harry Tector (0), and Lorcan Tucker (0) followed them just two balls later in the sixth.

Curtis Campher (59 not out) and Kevin O'Brien (22) steadied the ship with some conservative batting, staving off the England attack for 14 full overs, but the latter eventually paid the price for opting to alter their mentality.

Like Tector and Tucker, Simi Singh returned to the pavilion without a run to his name, and although Andy McBrine's solid 40 helped he and Campher put up a decent defence, Ireland were eventually skittled in the 45th over when Jason Roy caught Craig Young to secure Willey's fifth wicket.

England's chase did not begin particularly emphatically, as they found themselves at 36-2 after the sixth over – Roy (24) and Jonny Bairstow (2) the early casualties.

Tucker then caught Vince (25) off Young in the 10th over, but England's wobble effectively ended with his replacement, Billings, who impressed with an unbeaten 67, which included 11 fours.

England lost Tom Banton (11), but captain Eoin Morgan (36 not out) came in and ultimately sealed a comfortable victory as he blasted Singh's delivery for six – the hosts reaching 174 runs in the 28th over with six wickets to spare.

Eoin Morgan does not believe England's Cricket World Cup triumph will prove to be a hindrance as his side prepare to begin their home white-ball season.

England face Ireland in a three-match ODI series, starting on Thursday, at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, England's first home one-day series since Morgan led the team to World Cup glory in July 2019 will be played behind closed doors.

And though Morgan understands there will be new challenges posed by having no fans in attendance, he does not believe England's World Cup success will be a weight on the side's shoulders.

"I would rather be in that position than not winning and having to fight to find a winning formula," Morgan told a news conference.

"I think winning last year has given our guys a huge confidence in the process and the planning with which we went through a long period.

"It allows us to go into every World Cup with that strategy and forward thinking and trying to continually get better.

"Seeing the finished product last year was an eye opener for everybody. It also creates a level of expectation wherever we go, and while it sits well with some of our guys a lot of them haven't experienced that. We want to win more trophies."

Morgan also added that he sees the current pool of players available for selection as the strongest in his time as captain.

"I think the selection was particularly difficult. Over the last four and a bit years we've always had tough decisions to make," he said.

"Everyone who has been left out was a tough call. The standard has been exceptional, way above the standard I expected given the time we had off.

"We're blessed at the moment with a high-calibre group of top-order batters, not only in the team but also sitting in the wings. 

"There's such a big pool of players that are all so talented. We don't know if they'll succeed in international cricket but you would be comfortable selecting them in a squad if you needed them."

England's one-day captain Eoin Morgan believes James Anderson and Stuart Broad are "the greatest that's ever been" after the latter followed his fellow bowler in reaching 500 Test wickets. 

Broad was dropped by England for the first match in the three-Test series against West Indies but was the star of the show as Joe Root's side regained the Wisden Trophy with two successive wins at Old Trafford. 

The 34-year-old took his 500th Test wicket on the final day of the third Test on Tuesday, helping the hosts secure victory by 269 runs. 

He became the seventh player to reach the landmark when he dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite – Anderson having taken the wicket of the same batsman when he reached the landmark back in 2017. 

Asked for his thoughts on Broad's achievement, ODI captain Morgan was full of praise for his former team-mate.

"It's incredible," Morgan told a news conference ahead of England's ODI series against Ireland, which begins on Thursday.

"We [the one-day squad] watched most of it. We sort of sat back and discussed where he started, how he progressed, different guys with which he's played. 

"In many ways, Broady and Jimmy [Anderson] are always paired together, but when you speak about them on their own, they're the greatest that's ever been. 

"That doesn't hold a lot of weight at the moment, but I’m sure it will do when they finish playing, which is sad but I'm sure that's the way everybody operates. 

"I'm very lucky to have played Test cricket with him [Broad]. I played in a game where he took a hat-trick at Trent Bridge and it was unbelievable. 

"To show the longevity, the skill and not only that, he's box office. He takes wickets in clusters, he's a nightmare to play against." 

Broad and Anderson are no longer involved with England's limited-overs teams, with Morgan believing their focus being directed solely towards Test cricket has helped the duo in the long run. 

"I think you'd have to speak to them. They know their bodies, know how they feel," he said. 

"I know for me, it's prolonged how I see my career going, having cut red-ball [cricket] out of it. It makes it less clustered, you spend more time with your family and cricket isn't as overwhelming as it potentially could be towards the end of your career. 

"I think both of them have spoken about the Ashes. Everybody who plays English Test cricket is judged on Ashes performances, and it wouldn't surprise me if those guys want to go past that." 

Reece Topley looks set to make his first England appearance for over four years after being named in a 14-man ODI squad for the series with Ireland. 

Topley has not played at international level since the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 tournament in India after being hit hard by injuries, but the left-arm paceman is poised to return at the Rose Bowl. 

No members of the Test side have been selected given the final match against West Indies only finishes on Tuesday, with the first of three one-dayers starting behind closed doors 48 hours later. 

Batsman Phil Salt misses out despite smashing a century off only 58 balls in England Lions' victory over Ireland in Southampton on Sunday. 

Joe Denly is included, however, after being dropped from the Test side. David Willey is also back in the squad, while there is a spot for Tom Banton.

England selector James Taylor said: "We are developing excellent strength in depth in white-ball cricket. Even though a number of Test players are unavailable, there is great competition for places, as we have seen during the intra-squad matches and the England Lions warm-up match.

"There are a number of players who'll feel unlucky not to have made the final squad and that says a lot about how many players we currently have pushing hard for selection at the highest level.

"These ODIs against Ireland are an opportunity to continue the exciting evolution of the ODI side, while also looking towards the T20 World Cup in 2021.

"In this challenging season, everyone at England appreciates the hard work and dedication of the county coaches and support staff who have helped these players to get ready for competitive cricket."

 

England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Joe Denly, Saqib Mahmood, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey.

Reserves: Richard Gleeson, Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has officially launched the inaugural ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League, starting with England's one-day series against Ireland.

Introduced to help bring context to 50-over cricket at the highest level, the Super League will be used as a qualification system for the next ICC World Cup, scheduled for 2023 in India.

There will be 13 teams involved – the 12 full members, as well as the Netherlands – and the top seven in the final table will automatically secure their place at the global tournament, the ICC confirmed in a statement.

All sides will play four series at home and away, with each consisting of three matches.

"The league will bring relevance and context to ODI cricket over the next three years, as qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is at stake," Geoff Allardice, ICC general manager for cricket operations, said.

"The Super League gives cricket fans around the world even more reasons to watch as the drama of league cricket unfolds.

"The decision last week to move the World Cup back to late 2023 gives us more time to schedule any games lost due to COVID-19 and preserve the integrity of the qualification process, meaning it will be decided on the field of play, which is important."

Reigning world champions England will kick things off this week when they start their series against Ireland, the first of three matches between the teams taking place at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

"We're looking forward to playing cricket again and to the ICC Men's World Cup Super League," England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan said.

"Given the situation, it will be quite different to the last time we played at home, when we lifted the World Cup at Lord's, but it's nice to be starting our journey for the next edition of the tournament. 

"I'm sure cricket fans all over the world will be excited to see white-ball cricket resume and we're looking forward to the challenge."

World Rugby has proposed the introduction of a temporary international window before the end of 2020, a move that would allow this year's Six Nations to be completed.

The governing body's executive committee is keen for international fixtures to be staged again to aid the sport as it tries to deal with the off-field impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Having held discussions with all international and club competitions, as well as players and national unions, World Rugby wants a window that will start in late October and run into December.

The revised calendar would allow for the 2020 Six Nations tournament - suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak in March - to stage the final four fixtures still outstanding, followed by Test matches in Europe organised by the individual unions.

As for the Rugby Championship, the 2020 edition would take place in one country over a six-week period spanning November 7 to December 12.

"Recognising the importance of a balanced and shared compromise among all stakeholders, a temporary international window between October 24 and December 5 has been recommended," said a statement from World Rugby.

"In the north, this window will accommodate the postponed men's and women's Six Nations matches at the end of October, a rest weekend on November 7 and a programme of international matches involving the Six Nations and invited teams hosted in Europe from November 14 through to December 5."

With the Rugby Championship, "special" measures would be put in place to cope with travel restrictions, while the changes to the schedule allows leading players to be available for their clubs.

"With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to impact international travel and borders across southern hemisphere unions, on an exceptional basis the Rugby Championship 2020 will be hosted in full in a single country over a reduced six-week period between November 7 and December 12," the statement continued.

"Special measures will be implemented to deal with any government-required quarantine period prior to the start of the competition.

"The rescheduling of the domestic, European and international calendars will accommodate the ability for the professional clubs to have access to their star southern hemisphere international players for the completion of the postponed and rescheduled 2019-20 seasons at a time in which they would have ordinarily been on international duty in August and September."

The recommendations will need to receive approval at next week's meeting of the World Rugby Council.

England have named nine uncapped players in a 24-man training squad ahead of the three-match ODI series against Ireland.

Paul Collingwood will take charge of the group, which will live and train on-site at the Rose Bowl in Southampton ahead of the series, which starts on July 30.

Only eight of the players who were part of the 15-man squad that won the 2019 Cricket World Cup are included.

Seven players – Henry Brookes, Sam Hain, Laurie Evans, Phil Salt, Brydon Carse, Richard Gleeson and Tom Helm – have not represented England in any format.

Lewis Gregory and Liam Livingstone have previously won Twenty20 caps, while David Willey returns after missing out on last year's World Cup squad.

Alex Hales, who has not been included in a squad since he tested positive for a recreational drug in April 2019, was left out, with national selector Ed Smith touching on the batsman's omission.

"I have nothing to add to what Eoin Morgan has said about Alex," Smith told Sky Sports.

"We know how good a player he is, we know what happened, Eoin has been very clear about his comments and we support that."

Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali were left out of England's squad for the three-Test series against West Indies but are included in the training group, as is Jason Roy.

England will face Pakistan in a three-match Test series throughout August, the ECB has confirmed, with Australia's planned white-ball tour to be rescheduled.

Due to the impact of coronavirus, no international cricket has been played since March, though England will take on West Indies in a three-Test series that starts on Wednesday at the Ageas Bowl and then shifts to Old Trafford.

The Southampton venue will also host three ODIs between England and Ireland and two of the Tests with Pakistan, with the Test series starting at Old Trafford on August 5.

Old Trafford will then act as the venue for three Twenty20 internationals between the sides, starting on August 28. All matches will be played behind closed doors.

 

However, there are as yet no confirmed dates for Australia's white-ball tour, which had initially been planned to start on July 3.

"Confirmation of these matches against Ireland and Pakistan is another important step for our game as we begin to safely stage international cricket again, but also to minimise the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on cricket at all levels," ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.

"It has taken significant effort and expertise to allow us to reach a position where cricket is now ready and able to return to the field of play from the elite level to recreational cricket.

"We owe a significant debt of gratitude to the players, staff and administrators of the Cricket West Indies, Cricket Ireland, and the Pakistan Cricket Board for their willingness and co-operation to get international cricket back up and running and allow these matches to be staged.

"It must be reiterated that there is still much work for the ECB and the cricket network to do as we try to plot a path through this pandemic.

"We also continue to explore options to play [the] white-ball series against Australia this summer and hope to have news on the series soon."

World Rugby has ruled out the possibility of holding an international invitational tournament in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2021 to provide relief following the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron had proposed the one-off 16-team competition to raise money "for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world", with sport suspended in recent months due to the global crisis.

The event, held in the UK in order to avoid disrupting France's 2023 Rugby World Cup preparations, would see 31 matches across June and July and prompt the postponement of the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa.

The suggested tournament - dubbed the 'Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby' as Baron revealed his plan to the Telegraph - would reportedly aim to bring in up to £250million to support the sport as it recovers from the pandemic.

However, the  idea has been dismissed by governing body World Rugby.

A statement read: "World Rugby notes a proposal by former RFU CEO Francis Baron suggesting the organisation of a major international rugby event in the UK in 2021 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on global rugby.

"World Rugby does not intend to pursue such a proposal.

"All stakeholders continue to progress productive discussions regarding the immediate global COVID-19 financial relief strategy and international rugby calendar optimisation, both of which will further the success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France."

World Rugby has already postponed all July Tests and set aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Ten of the leading international rugby union teams are exploring the possibility of a new aligned schedule.

South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina - the nations that make up SANZAAR - and the half a dozen countries that compete in the Six Nations are aiming to collaborate for the sport's benefit.

Several unions have been affected by the impact of coronavirus, with World Rugby having postponed all July Tests and setting aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Now discussions are ongoing between SANZAAR and Six Nations boards over a new calendar designed to limit club-versus-country rows and create more lucrative games between the world's best teams.

A joint statement read: "Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish."

It added: "The nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path."

Last month World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont suggested a Nations Championship - similar to cricket's recently formed ICC Test Championship - could get off the ground after being met with initial resistance.

 

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