LONDON: Georgia will replace Japan in the new eight-team tournament being held in the UK and Ireland in November, with the format and fixtures confirmed by organisers on Thursday.
After the original November internationals were cancelled because of travel restrictions impacting the southern hemisphere nations, an "alternative Six Nations", with Fiji and Japan added, was devised. Japan too then had to withdraw because of COVID-19 travel complications, with Georgia stepping in.
The competition, titled the Autumn Nations Cup, will comprise two pools of four. Group A will include England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia, with Group B comprising France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji.
The action gets underway over the weekend of Nov. 13-15, kicking off with Ireland v Wales in Dublin on the Friday. This will be followed on Saturday by England v Georgia and Italy v Scotland, while on Sunday France will host Fiji.
The competition will conclude on the weekend of the Dec 5-6 with a final round of matches where each team will face off against the team ranked in their same position in the opposite pool.
Wales's home games are expected to be held at London venues as the Principality Stadium is still unavailable after being used as a COVID-19 hospital.
Before that, the rearranged games in the Six Nations will be played, with Wales v Scotland, Italy v England and France v Ireland, on Oct. 31 and Ireland v Italy on Oct. 24.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)