July schedule confirmed for Pacific rugby nations

Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will all play two tests in New Zealand as part of World Rugby's revised schedule for the July international window.

The Flying Fijians will now play two tests against the All Blacks on 10 and 17 July after their home series against Ireland was cancelled because of Covid-19.

Fiji have played New Zealand nine previous occasions, including five tests, the last of which was a 60-14 defeat in Dunedin a decade ago.

As previously confirmed by RNZ Pacific, the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier between Samoa and Tonga will be played in New Zealand over two legs.

The traditional rivals would normally play in Apia and Nuku'alofa but the Oceania 1 playoff will now take place in New Zealand on 10 and 17 July because of ongoing border restrictions around the world.

The aggregate winner will join England, Japan, Argentina and an Americas qualifier in Rugby World Cup Pool D in France, while the losing county is set to face the Cook Islands for a place in the Asia/Pacific Playoff.

Both countries have indicated a desire to play a warm-up fixture before their World Cup playoff if time allows.

It remains unclear if Manu Samoa or the 'Ikale Tahi will be able to call on their European based players for the two tests because of global travel restrictions, while Fiji Rugby said it remains in discussions with New Zealand Rugby and was "working through a range of logistical issues related to flights, quarantine and related matters".

World Rugby said it continued to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely and any revisions to the November international programme will be confirmed in due course.

The governing body said discussions were also continuing over confirmation of a women's test programme that will boost preparation for next year's delayed Rugby World Cup tournament.