Georgia and Fiji will join the Six Nations sides in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, which will replace the normal mid-season internationals from November.
The tournament will get underway on Friday 13 November as Ireland host Wales in Pool A at the Aviva Stadium, though home games for Wales, France, Georgia and Fiji still need to be determined because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the first time in history, England will take on Georgia outside of a Rugby World Cup, with Eddie Jones’ side set to take on the Rugby Europe Championship outfit on the opening weekend of the tournament. Having long hammered at the door of Europe’s elite competition, Georgia will finally get the chance to stake their case for a permanent sport in the Six Nations, while Fiji will also be brought in from the cold following their impressive showing at the Rugby World Cup last year.
With the World Cup finalists also placed in Pool A, England will also meet Ireland and Wales across consecutive weeks, the former taking place at Twickenham before then facing Wayne Pivac’s side at a venue still to be decided.
The final round of fixtures across 5 and 6 December will see teams in the same position across the two pools face off against one and other to determine the final positions.
“We have a new competition format this autumn and are expecting four quality Tests which will be a good challenge for us,” said Jones.
“It will be great to get back to Twickenham. We have incredible fans and value their support – we want to play tough, vibrant rugby and make them proud.”
The tournament is dependent on the status of the coronavirus pandemic across Europe come November, and will be broadcast on television with further details set to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
The games will follow England’s Quilter Cup clash against the Barbarians on 25 October, before they wrap up the 2020 Six Nations campaign with their delayed trip to Rome to meet Italy – where they stand a chance of taking the championship bragging rights.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “While it has not been possible to go ahead with our four originally scheduled Quilter Internationals, we have worked hard with the Six Nations and other unions to make sure we can deliver an exciting updated schedule of Quilter Internationals given all the challenges Covid-19 has placed on international travel.
“We remain cautiously optimistic about the return of fans to the stadium for the Quilter Internationals and look forward to hearing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the detail following yesterday’s government update. We will provide more information in due course.”
2,700 fans returned to English rugby last weekend as Harlequins hosted Bath in the sport’s first pilot event, but despite feedback being overwhelmingly positive, the next scheduled test at Gloucester’s match against Quins on Monday has been thrown into doubt by Boris Johnson’s toughening of coronavirus restrictions.
Autumn Nations Cup fixtures
13 November: Ireland vs Wales (Aviva Stadium) – 7pm
14 November: Italy vs Scotland (TBC) – 12:45pm
14 November: England vs Georgia (Twickenham) – 3pm
15 November: France vs Fiji (TBC) – TBC
21 November: Italy vs Fiji (TBC) – 12:45pm
21 November: England vs Ireland (Twickenham Stadium) – 3pm
21 November: Wales vs Georgia (TBC) – 5:15pm
22 November: Scotland vs France (BT Murrayfield) – 3pm
28 November: Scotland vs Fiji (BT Murrayfield) – 1:45pm
28 November: Wales vs England (TBC) – 4pm
28 November: France vs Italy (TBC) – 8pm
29 November: Ireland vs Georgia (Aviva Stadium) – 2pm
5 December: Georgia vs TBC (BT Murrayfield) – 12pm
5 December: Ireland vs TBC (Aviva Stadium) – 2:15pm
5 December: Wales vs TBC (TBC) – 4:45pm
6 December: England vs TBC (Twickenham Stadium) – 2pm
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