Pandemic kicks Toa Samoa test to touch
Toa Samoa’s test match against the Cook Islands planned for 20 June 2020 has been postponed along with other mid-year Oceania Cup fixtures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation (A.P.R.L.C.) decided as such at an emergency meeting of their board on Thursday.
A.P.R.L.C. do remain committed to holding Oceania Cup fixtures in October and November this year.
"There are still a lot of moving parts, but this is the prudent way to go, and the best option to ensure all nations due to participate in Oceania Cup can play at least one international this year," said Confederation chair, Sandis Tsaka.
Australia and New Zealand both announced they were closing their borders to all but citizens and permanent residents this week, circumstances that would make the planned June tests in Auckland between New Zealand and Tonga, and Samoa and the Cook Islands impossible should they continue.
“The APRLC board acknowledges that the ongoing uncertainty and restrictions around sport, travel and mass gatherings in Australia and New Zealand may necessitate further changes to planning, but we believe this is the most sensible position to adopt at this point in time," said A.P.R.L.C. deputy chair Greg Peters.
"We are grateful to the Rugby League Players' Association for their ongoing support of Oceania Cup, and for acknowledging the importance of these fixtures for a large contingent of the playing group," added International Rugby League southern hemisphere general manager Jeremy Edwards.
The A.P.R.L.C. board also noted that postponing the June internationals could help Australia’s National Rugby League by freeing up that weekend for club games to be played if necessary.
National Rugby League is one of very few professional sporting competitions in the world that has resolved to play through the COVID-19 pandemic, with matches to be played behind closed doors starting this weekend.