Wales summer tour to Argentina set to be called off

Wales v Argentina
Argentina last beat Wales at the Principality Stadium in November 2012

Wales will not tour south America this summer but hope Argentina could still travel for two tests in July.

Wayne Pivac’s side were due to face the Pumas and Uruguay this summer but it will be postponed because of Covid-19 concerns.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips will speak to Argentina bosses today to try and resolve the situation.

“I can’t see us travelling to Argentina,” said Phillips.

Argentina is on the red list of UK government’s list of 40 countries from which there are strict restrictions on travel.

“It’s a red country and the players coming back would be faced by a hard quarantine of 10 days which we don’t think is acceptable where you live in a Heathrow hotel,” said Phillips.

“That is hard going on the back end of a hard season when you are talking about player welfare and rest for next season.

“The way World Rugby schedule works is our obligation to go to Argentina, it’s their home match and income.

“We will try and put Argentina in the position they were in as if they were playing at home and see if they are happy for us to host them.

“We would be happy to contribute to their costs. The fundamental thing is we desperately want to play two or three tests this July because we lost the New Zealand tour last year.

“World Rugby are supportive and it’s about trying to come to an arrangement where everybody ends up they are comfortable with.

“It’s similar to the RFU with USA and Canada who could be coming England and hosted at Twickenham.”

Phillips outlined what would happen if Argentina declined the offer with potentially three matches for Pivac’s side.

“Plan B is probably going to be around the possibility of USA, Canada and Japan who are in this country,” said Phillips.

“There is also mix and match at play here. We are obliged to play two matches with Argentina so if they are inclined to come we could play one of the others as well.

“Wayne is keen to play test rugby again and if we are being positive we are hoping for significant Lions call-ups so it would be great to give other players the chance.”

Phillips does not currently expect to have crowds for the summer fixtures in Wales despite Welsh Government considering pilot events from late May onwards.

“Depending where we go to with test events, I probably don’t have real expectations of getting any crowds, certainly not significant crowds, for July base of our conversations with Welsh Government,” added Phillips.

“Our next opportunity is the autumn and our ambition is to have full houses but we know it’s government regulations on what we can or can’t do.”

Wales will play New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina and Fiji in the autumn internationals with the All Blacks game in October 30 outside of World Rugby’s international window.

Steve Phillips has worked at the Welsh Rugby Union since 2007 and replaced Martyn Phillips as chief executive
Steve Phillips has worked at the Welsh Rugby Union since 2007 and replaced Martyn Phillips as chief executive

This means Wales will not have access to their English-based players for this fixture while the regions will be without their top players who will be available to Pivac.

“It’s part of our strategy to play a fourth match, we’ve been doing that certainly since I’ve been here in 2007.

“We were very pleased we were able to secure the All Blacks for this year and you’ve got to play the best.

“A lot of people will say you are not guaranteed to the release of the players based in the Premiership but you can also turn that into an opportunity to give other players the chance to play.

“It would also be remiss of me not to say there is a commercial aspect to this more for us and New Zealand and in the times we are in, we are not gonna to walk by that.”

“With regards to the regions it’s all factored in and been in place for a long time and comes as no surprise.

“There’s a lot of positivity about securing New Zealand because of frankly what they are and what it brings to Wales.”

Wales have also been handed a Friday night Six Nations match in 2022 against France.

“You are not going to get every game on a Saturday,” said Phillips.

“It’s a choice of a Friday or a Sunday so as part of your thinking there is a commercial conversation, but more importantly there is always a performance conversation.

“What the performance teams tell you is try and avoid if possible a six-day turnaround.

“I accept going onto a Friday there are a lot people who will not like that and equally there are a lot people who don’t like a Sunday.

“Financially Friday is not as good as a Saturday, but probably better than a Sunday.”

Phillips also confirmed Wales are seeking to appoint a high performance manager after former Wales captain Ryan Jones left his post last year. The WRU have appointed a head hunter to find his successor.

BBC News