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IRFU assessing new options for July as plans for Fiji tour are aborted

Andy Farrell won’t be bringing a squad to Fiji this summer due to a recent outbreak of Covid-19.

Plans were at 'a very advanced stage' for Andy Farrell's Ireland to travel to Fiji in July.
Plans were at 'a very advanced stage' for Andy Farrell's Ireland to travel to Fiji in July.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

PLANS FOR IRELAND to play three Tests in Fiji this summer have been aborted, the IRFU has confirmed.

Talks were at “an advanced stage” between Irish rugby chiefs, Fijian Rugby Union and World Rugby regarding Andy Farrell bringing a squad to the Pacific Island in July.

However, with a recent outbreak of Covid-19 increasing the level of risk in Fiji, the proposed fixtures have been abandoned.

The IRFU say they intend to contact other unions to explore alternative options for Test matches during the July international window. 

“A great deal of effort has gone into the planning of the tour, which was predicated on a safety first approach,” IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora said this afternoon.

“Fiji, up until this point, had been relatively untouched by the pandemic, but that picture has quickly changed and unfortunately it is no longer viable to proceed with the tour.

“The rugby challenge in Fiji would have been formidable and would have exposed our players to the athleticism and skillset that the Fijians are famous for. It would have provided a significant developmental window for the national group, considering that they also missed out on a summer tour in 2020.

“I would like to thank the Fijian Rugby Union, the Fijian government and World Rugby for their support over the past few months and I have no doubt it would have been a successful and fantastic touring experience.

“We will continue to explore alternative arrangements with our partner unions.” 

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell added: “It is incredibly disappointing that we are not now able to tour Fiji. It would have been a tough rugby challenge against an excellent Fijian side and a huge opportunity for us to develop as a group and build on the progress made during the past year.

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“Touring is such an invaluable experience in terms of what we learn about the group and that is why the IRFU worked tirelessly with Simon Raiwalui, the High Performance General Manager of Fiji Rugby, to make the tour a reality and it is such a shame that it can now not go ahead.

“We will be looking to source alternative fixtures and we hope to have them nailed down in the coming weeks.”

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Paul Dollery

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