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."

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 announced a friendly against Wales at Wembley on October 8.

Gareth Southgate's side will take on their cross-border rivals behind closed doors in their first home game of 2020.

The last meeting between the two countries was in a group match at Euro 2016, when England secured a 2-1 victory courtesy of Daniel Sturridge's last-gasp goal.

After taking on Ryan Giggs' side, World Cup semi-finalists England face a Nations League double-header with home matches against Belgium and Denmark on October 11 and 14 respectively.

England will use the Wales fixture to stage a tribute to former internationals who have died in the past 12 months, including 1966 World Cup winners Jack Charlton, Martin Peters, Norman Hunter and Peter Bonetti.

 

Ryan Giggs has been so impressed by "fantastic" Liverpool this season that he is trying to get his Wales team to play like Jurgen Klopp's side. 

The Reds' relentless pace in the Premier League has been too much for their challengers, with Liverpool having built up a 25-point lead over Manchester City prior to the season being paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It was confirmed on Thursday that the top flight will resume on June 17 and Liverpool need just two more wins from their final nine fixtures to guarantee a first domestic title in three decades. 

Much of the past 30 years since has been dominated by Manchester United, with whom Giggs won 13 Premier League titles, but the Wales boss has nothing but admiration for Klopp's current crop. 

"With the obvious pause in the season because of COVID-19, I think there's a lot of questions still to be answered," Giggs told Sky Sports. 

"But I think what we have seen this year is Liverpool are a fantastic team, managed by a great coach in Jurgen Klopp and, it pains me to say it as a United fan, but they have been fantastic this season.

"Obviously they'll go on and, whatever way it is, they'll win the league and deserve it.

"They've had two brilliant seasons actually, last year pushing Man City all the way. They're a great team to watch.

"There were certain things that I've taken out of the way that Liverpool play, and taking it on to the way that I want to do with Wales.

"Hopefully United will bridge that gap and catch them up. But you have to give credit where credit is due and Liverpool have been fantastic this season."

United, now managed by Giggs' former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, are fifth in the Premier League, 37 points behind Liverpool.

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.

Saracens have signed Wales scrum-half Aled Davies on a three-year deal.

Davies' international career appears to be over after he opted to leave the Ospreys to join the European and Premiership champions.

The 27-year-old playmaker will not be able play for his country due to the 60-cap eligibility rule and is instead heading for the Championship after Sarries were consigned to relegation due to salary-cap breaches.

Davies said: "It's a great opportunity for me at a massive club. It's a massive honour to come here and I can't wait to get started.

"It seems like there is a good team and family ethos around the club which is very attractive for me and my family.

"I'm looking forward to putting my stamp on things and making an impact, hopefully."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Aled is an experienced, talented player and we are delighted to welcome both him and his family to Saracens.

"He is driven to take his game to new levels and we are excited he has chosen to do that at Saracens."

Davies has won 20 caps for Wales, with his last appearance coming against Uruguay in the Rugby World Cup last October.

Wales international Jonah Holmes has joined the Dragons on a long-term deal after he was released from the last year of his Leicester Tigers contract.

Holmes, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, scored 24 tries in three seasons with Premiership side Leicester.

The 27-year-old has been capped three times by Wales, and Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan hopes the region can help him become an established Test player.

Ryan said: "Jonah is a top-class international who is excited to make the move to Wales and join Dragons.

"Jonah has big ambitions, in both the domestic and international arena, and we are pleased that he believes that Dragons is the right fit for him to be able to achieve those goals."

Holmes is relishing a new challenge in the Pro 14.

He said: "I'm pleased to finalise the move and can't wait to get started in a new competition and link up with my team-mates.

"I've spoken at length to Dean, know the ambition for the future and have seen the squad that is being built. I'm excited by the challenge ahead.

"My focus is now totally on Dragons, getting integrated into the squad as soon as possible and trying to get my name on that first team sheet."

Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs predicts a bright future for academy product Dylan Levitt.

Levitt, 19, was called up to the senior Wales squad by Giggs for a training camp last May, and again for their final Euro 2020 qualifiers last November.

He did not make an appearance for his country, with Wales having only secured their place at the finals with a 2-0 victory over Hungary.

Giggs regrets not having been able to give Levitt a chance on the pitch and says the youngster stands out in training as an obvious talent.

"When Dylan was in the squad, we had must-win games, so I couldn't really throw him in and put him in that pressure cooker," the Wales boss told MUTV.

"But, in training, he's one of the best. He's my kind of player – a good character, quiet but tough, and he's one that I'll be taking a big look at over the next year or so.

"I want him to develop and if he does and, if he plays more games, then he'll definitely be in the reckoning. He's a really intelligent player with a good range of passing and he stands out in training in every session.

"As I said, it's just a shame that I couldn't get him on the pitch."

Levitt, who has been with the United academy since he was eight, has impressed for the club's Under-23s side and was part of the young senior side Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took to Nur-Sultan to face Astana in the Europa League.

He started alongside James Garner in midfield in the Red Devils' 2-1 defeat last November.

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.

 

World Rugby has taken the decision to postpone all international rugby matches scheduled for July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reigning Rugby World Cup holders South Africa had been due to face Scotland and Georgia, while England were set to tour Japan and New Zealand had been scheduled to host Wales and Scotland.

However, all of those matches, and Ireland's tour of Australia, have been postponed with no new dates set.

A statement from World Rugby read: "Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

"Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.  

"All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and International Rugby Players, will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year.

"All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby."

Rugby Australia's general manager Ben Whitaker had previously suggested that games could be rescheduled for October.

International rugby has been on hold since March when the Six Nations was halted with four matches still to play.

The financial impact of having no games has already severely impacted the unions in Australia and the USA, with World Rugby having set up a $100million relief fund.

 

Daniel James feels it is a "bit too much" to be compared to Wales team-mate Gareth Bale.

Winger James made an instant impact for Manchester United following his arrival from Swansea City prior to the 2019-20 season, scoring on his home debut in a 4-0 win over Chelsea.

He has since managed to add two more goals in the Premier League, as well as another for the Red Devils in the Europa League before the ongoing campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-year-old's lightning pace and willingness to run at opposing players has led some to draw similarities to Bale, yet James instead sees the Real Madrid superstar - who he describes as a "just a normal guy" - as an inspirational figure.

"I don't think you can compare me to him," James told Sky Sports.

"To play with him at Wales is obviously amazing. For anyone that doesn't know him, he's such a great guy. Just a normal guy really. He's great with the youngsters and great around the place.

"But to be compared to him is a bit too much, I think.

"What he's done in his career, how he changed from a left-back to a left midfielder, to win the Champions League... it's just amazing what he has done.

"Players like him are the ones you look up to, but I think being compared to him is a bit silly."

James has also had the chance to play alongside one of his childhood idols at club level this season, having always admired Juan Mata.

The Spaniard is not just a role model on the pitch, however, also helping the new boy settle in at Old Trafford.

"When I first met him, he came and sat next to me in the changing room and said, 'I know it's a big move for you, if you need anything here is my number and if you ever need to talk about anything I'm here.' That was obviously great for me," James revealed.

He added on Mata: "He's just someone that I've always looked up to and to play in the same team as him is just surreal for me."

Gareth Bale and his wife Emma have donated £500,000 to a hospital in his hometown of Cardiff to help the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cardiff and Vale Health Charity made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing the couple dedicated funds to the University Hospital of Wales, where the Wales captain was born.

It has been requested the money be put towards "the response to COVID-19", with the focus of this particular charity being on "providing those extras for staff and patients that normal NHS funding doesn’t provide."

In a pre-recorded video, Real Madrid forward Bale said: "Hi everyone, I just wanted to record this video to thank everyone in the NHS for all their hard work and sacrifice during this COVID-19 crisis.

"The University Hospital of Wales holds a special place in my heart – it was where I was born, and it has provided great support to my friends, family and the wider community, so me and my family would like to show our support.

April 14 is a date defined by the unexpected in the world of sport.

From a unique edition of one of rugby's most famous competitions, to an Anfield turnaround that defied belief, sporting events on this date have produced their fair share of surprises.

It is also a date that will be forever etched in the memory of arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

Here we look back at some of the best sporting moments to take place on April 14.

1973: France failure ensures five-way tie

April 14, 1973 was the day on which an anomaly in the long and storied history of the Five and Six Nations was secured.

A tournament that saw all five teams struggle for consistency came to a close in Dublin. France had the championship in their sights after seeing off defending champions Wales in their previous encounter.

That victory left them as the only team capable of winning the title outright. Triumph at Lansdowne Road was needed to seal it but, in extremely windy conditions, inaccuracy from the tee cost them.

France missed three penalties and a conversion as Ireland claimed a 6-4 win that ensured every team finished on four points. The lack of a tiebreaker meant there could be no outright winner, with all five teams claiming a share of the championship. Had there been a points difference tiebreaker, Wales would have again prevailed.

2016: Klopp knocks out Dortmund in famous Liverpool comeback

Six months on from taking over at Liverpool, Klopp was reunited with the club where he made his name in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The last-eight tie with Borussia Dortmund was finely poised after a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.

It was Dortmund that appeared poised to progress to the semi-finals, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them a 2-0 lead.

Divock Origi pulled one back for Liverpool three minutes into the second half but Marco Reus looked to have put the tie beyond doubt, his effort leaving the Reds needing three goals to progress.

However, a rasping low drive from Philippe Coutinho gave Anfield hope and Mamadou Sakho's close-range header in the 77th minute set the stage for a grandstand finish. Dejan Lovren proved the unlikely hero as he towered to turn home James Milner's cross in the 91st minute.

Liverpool went on to defeat Villarreal in the semi-finals but were denied in the showpiece in Basel as Sevilla claimed a 3-1 win.

2019: Tiger caps comeback with remarkable Masters win

One of sport's greatest comeback stories was completed on this day at Augusta last year.

Most had doubted whether Tiger Woods would ever recapture the form that saw him win 14 majors after his well-documented back problems.

Yet, the closest challenger to Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 inched one closer with the kind of performance many considered consigned to history to win his fifth green jacket.

Woods began the final day two strokes behind Francesco Molinari, but a captivating final day tilted firmly in his favour on the 15th.

Molinari sent his tee shot into the trees and then found the water with a misplaced lay-up, eventually making double bogey.

Woods, by contrast, birdied from two feet to take the outright lead, with a sensational tee shot at 16 leaving him a short putt for a two-stroke advantage.

He made par at 17 to ensure a bogey would be enough on the last, and there would be no last-gasp slip-up, Woods standing on the 18th green with his arms aloft in celebration of a triumph few thought possible.

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has agreed to a "big" cut in his salary during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foster confirmed he and his fellow coaches have already reached an agreement with New Zealand Rugby, while discussions with players are also at an advanced stage.

"Our coaching group has definitely taken a big cut," Foster said to Newstalk ZB.

"That's already been agreed to - with rugby when there's no games, there's no revenue, and that's a tough thing. There's been a lot of shaving of the programmes inside and what it's also come down to is cutting.

"It's a different sort of process for players but I know they're willing to go into that space too.

"Theirs is a more complex [situation] - but it's a given and they understand that. It's just a matter of working it through so all the different levels of players are dealt with fairly.

"I haven't heard one player yet who doesn't accept that it's going to happen. There's a real willingness of those involved in the game to get behind this and do whatever it takes to make sure [the game] survives."

Foster believes the three home Test matches scheduled for July, two against Wales and another against Scotland, are unlikely to go ahead.

He wants the All Blacks players to maintain a base level of fitness, though conceded a "short period" would still be needed after the lockdown to up their levels to full match readiness.

"If you look at the probability, there's a reasonably good chance that international travel and borders won't be down across the world at that point, so in that case the All Blacks won't be playing in July,” he added.

"[If we keep players at peak fitness] they'll just blow out mentally and get really frustrated with that because there’s so much uncertainty.

"We want the players to settle down then we'll start expecting fitness levels to be at a certain point that when the lockdown finishes and we do start to think about a starting point for rugby again."

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes the right call was made after it was decided to postpone the Six Nations clash with Scotland.

With the British government opting not to ban large events, it seemed as though Wales' encounter with Scotland would go ahead as planned in Cardiff on Saturday.

However, the WRU confirmed on Friday, 24 hours prior to kick-off, that the match would not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been a tough week," said Davies in quotes reported by BBC Sport. "But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do."

"I don't think we could've dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.

"We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until [Thursday] night.

"We had an emergency board meeting to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

"Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course, as did the Celtic v Rangers game, in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled.

"We spoke to the government this morning, who understood our position."

"For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk."

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