Scotland are set to play two Test matches against Japan and France at Murrayfield this Autumn, as well as an away match against Italy, as part of an eight-team rugby tournament being proposed as part of an extended international window created to boost the game’s finances following the devastating impact of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Gregor Townsend’s team had been due to play New Zealand and Argentina, as well as Japan, in November, but with the southern hemisphere sides unlikely to travel, a plan is in the process of being hatched for a tournament consisting of two pools of four playing on a round-robin basis on consecutive weekends between 14th and 28th November, followed by a play-off against the equivalently placed team in the opposite pool on 5th December. The other pool will consist of England, Ireland, Wales and Fiji. 

Scotland will also play their long-awaited final Six Nations match against Wales, which was postponed back in March, at the start of the enlarged window on 31st October, with the host venue expected to be Twickenham as the Principality Stadium in Cardiff is currently being deployed as an emergency hospital. Ireland and England will play their outstanding Six Nations matches against France and Italy, respectively, that same weekend. The other outstanding tie between Ireland and Italy will be played the weekend before. 

While the final details are still to be finalised, it is understood that Scottish Rugby is on board with the proposals as they stand, with the proviso that everything remains hinged on how the national governments in the participating territories progress with the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

Six Nations organisers are waiting for a decisive World Rugby Council vote on the extended international window on Thursday with an announcement on plans for the Autumn expected on 4th August. 

Among the key issues still to be decided is the host venues for a number of the games and whether crowds are allowed. RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said last month the union is planning for up to 40,000 fans to be able to attend the Twickenham Tests, pending government approval, although 28,000 has recently been mooted as a more likely maximum. 

Such a scenario is not realistic at Murrayfield given that the Scottish Government is taking far more cautious approach to lockdown easing than Westminster, with Scottish Rugby hopeful of being allowed a ‘Test crowd’ of around 1,000 spectators.