Scotland to compete in 2020 Autumn Nations Cup
Scotland will take part in a newly created tournament during November and December with France and Fiji coming to BT Murrayfield, as well as Georgia who Gregor Townsend’s side will host in a warm-up match in October.
The newly created Autumn Nations Cup tournament will replace the traditional Autumn international window for 2020 and ensures rugby fans all over the world will be treated to top class international rugby.
In recent months as the scale of the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, it became apparent that fulfilling the traditional Autumn International fixtures would not be possible particularly as a result of travel restrictions preventing certain international teams from competing in scheduled fixtures. The format for the Autumn Nations Cup will be two pools of four – Group A will include England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia with Group B comprising of France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji.
Following a warm-up match against Georgia at BT Murrayfield on Friday 23 October, Scotland will travel to play Wales in a rescheduled Guinness Six Nations match on Saturday 31 October (venue TBC).
Scotland will kick-off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign in Italy on Saturday 14 November (kick-off 12.45pm, venue TBC), before playing back-to-back matches at home against France on Sunday 22 November (kick-off 3pm) and Vern Cotter’s Fiji on Saturday 28 November (kick-off 1.45pm).
The final weekend of matches will be played on Saturday 5 December with each team facing off against the team ranked in their same position in the opposite pool, a format which promises some intriguing clashes e.g. 1st place Group A v 1st place Group B, 2nd place Group A v 2nd place Group B.
Following the cancellation of the previously scheduled 2020 Autumn Tests and the continuing uncertainty around social distancing guidelines (which may possibly affect 2021 Six Nations crowd capacities) Scottish Rugby has cancelled all its existing ticket and membership products, including the Scotland Season Pass, Autumn Test Package and Scotland Supporters Club membership. An announcement will be made shortly on how supporters will be able to access any available tickets for the Autumn Nations Cup games at BT Murrayfield.
Speaking to scottishrugby.org, Gregor Townsend, said: “This is an important first step on the international stage for all the nations involved in what will be an exciting series of matches. The Autumn Nations Cup is a welcome return to test match rugby and we face some familiar opposition in Italy and France and a chance to host Fiji, many of their squad we know well through their connections to Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.
“We are very much looking forward to working with our players again and taking on the challenge of this new tournament. Our squad depth will no doubt be tested over the four-week period but we’ve been encouraged by a number of strong individual displays so far this season.”
Ben Morel, CEO Six Nations Rugby commented: “We are absolutely delighted to formally announce details of the Autumn Nations Cup. A significant amount of time and effort has gone into delivering this new tournament format in testing circumstances and the spirit of collaboration amongst key stakeholders has been outstanding.
“While the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic made the traditional Autumn Test window unfeasible, we remained determined to deliver a unique and compelling tournament proposition which would ensure world class rugby for our fans globally, and competitive matches for players, unions and federations.
“We cannot wait for the tournament to get underway in November and fans can look forward to some outstanding matches featuring some of the greatest players in the world. We are especially pleased to be joined by Fiji and Georgia and expect them both to be tremendous additions to the competition.”
Broadcast arrangements in specific markets will be announced in due course.