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Ireland stars facing hectic fixtures plan



Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Ireland coach Andy Farrell

�INPHO/James Crombie

Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Ireland's frontline rugby players are set for a punishing schedule on several fronts when action finally resumes next month.

With the World Rugby Council approving a temporary autumn window, Ireland will play six Test matches in seven weeks, starting with the rescheduled Six Nations games at home to Italy and away to France at the end of October.

There will be an international break the following week before Andy Farrell's men face Wales in Dublin, England in Twickenham and Fiji back in the Aviva Stadium, before a play-off with the same ranking team from the other pool in the new 'Eight Nations', which will feature Japan, Scotland, France and Italy.

That final game in the new tournament will take place on the first weekend in December, and there is a possibility of two rounds of European action before Christmas.

The World Rugby Council have also cleared the way for the Rugby Championship to take place in the southern hemisphere for six weeks from November.

All four Irish provinces return to action next month with two Guinness PRO14 derbies behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium, with Leinster and Munster first up on August 22.

Leinster and Ulster will switch their focus to Heineken Champions Cup action in September with ties against Saracens and Toulouse, respectively, with the final scheduled for the weekend of October 17/18, just a week before Ireland take on Italy in the Six Nations.

Meanwhile, the 2020/21 PRO14 campaign is scheduled to start on October 3.

Belfast Telegraph