IT has been confirmed that Scotland will play New Zealand and Argentina, as well as their already announced game against Japan, in next year’s Autumn Test schedule.

The game against the Pumas will be the first of the three Murrayfield matches and will take place on the weekend of 6th November, with the Japan match being played the following weekend, and the three-game series being concluded with the visit of the All Blacks on the weekend of 20th November.

“Representing your country is the pinnacle of the sport and in 2020 we will have opportunities to pit ourselves against some of the world’s leading teams,” said Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend when welcoming the announcement of the schedule yesterday. “To host Argentina, Japan and New Zealand at BT Murrayfield following our games against England and France in the Six Nations provides fantastic competitive challenges which we look forward to seeing our players embrace.”


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Before that, Scotland have two home Six Nations matches against England on 8th February 2020 and France on 8th March [tickets for this second game will go on public sale at 10am on Thursday 21st November], followed by a summer tour in July to South Africa [two Test matches] and New Zealand [one Test match].

The Autumn Test opener against Argentina will be the 19th meeting between the historically evenly matched opponents, whose head-to-head result count is level on nine wins apiece in 30 years of Test rugby. Scotland have, however, won the last five matches in a row – the 2016 win sandwiched by home-and-away doubles in 2014 and 2018.

The Japan game will offer Townsend’s team an opportunity to settle a few scores after defeat to the Brave Blossoms at last month’s World Cup ended their involvement in the tournament, while the All Blacks clash will be the first meeting between the sides since Scotland went agonisingly close to a historic first win in 2017 when, in the last minute, full-back Stuart Hogg was denied by a superb cover tackle from stand-off Beauden Barrett.

However, it is not clear which television channel these games will be shown on, with it seeming increasingly likely that a significant investment in European rugby by CVC Partners private equity firm will have drastically transformed the commercial landscape of the game by then.

It emerged over the weekend that a request for Merger and Acquisition clearance has been filed to the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which if granted would clear the way for CVC to buy a 27 percent stake in the Guinness PRO14 league – competed for by teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Italy and South Africa – for £120 million, bringing a £35 million windfall to the SRU.

It is accepted that this is part of a grander plan to wrap all the TV rights from various leading rugby competitions and sell them as one mega-package. CVC have already bought a share of the English Premiership and have entered “an exclusive period of negotiation” with Six Nations Limited to buy what is believed to be 15 percent stake for £300m (although some reports put that figure at £500m). The Six Nations deal is understood to include Autumn Test matches.


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While the injection of such significant sums of cash represents a huge opportunity for the recipients, concerns have been expressed that the game will become less accessible to the average supporter as a result.

CVC has a patchy record when it comes to developing sport. It paid £1.6 billion to buy Formula One in 2006 and more than trebled its money by the time it sold it on in 2017, but their management of the business has been criticised, with Bob Fernley, former principal of the Force India F1 team, accusing CVC of “raping the sport”.

One of Fernley and his fellow critics’ biggest gripes is the drift towards pay TV. “All their actions have been taken to extract as much money from the sport as possible and put as little in as possible,” he said in 2016.

The SRU revealed last Friday that a review into its governance and management structures by former Scotland international and millionaire oilman Sir Bill Gammell, and his sidekick Norman Murray, had been agreed in principle by the organisation’s Board and Council. Details are to be sent to clubs in early December. The stated aim of this is to prepare the governing body for this sort of influx of cash, although it is not entirely clear why an overhaul of the governance structure is required for this purpose.