Rugby: No tests for world champions New Zealand this year due to COVID-19 – Reuters UK

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s world champion women’s rugby team were dealt a blow on Thursday, a year out from next year’s World Cup, with confirmation they would not play any international matches this year.

The Black Ferns had been hoping to organise tests against Australia’s Wallaroos later this year but said on Thursday they would only play a national trial game and then two matches against an invitational side in November.

“While we would have loved to play eight tests this year as planned, the COVID-19 situation has delivered significant challenges for everyone,” Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore said in a statement.

“We’ll take the opportunity we have to assemble and make the most of the rugby we do have.

“The most important thing is to be ready for September next year and we are determined to have the most prepared team there.”

The women’s Rugby World Cup will be held in New Zealand from Sept. 18-Oct. 16 next year. It is the first time the tournament has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The Black Ferns played six tests last year, but their most recent match was in August 2019, a 37-8 victory over Australia.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Michael Perry

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