Rugby: Italy cancel tour of New Zealand due to pandemic concerns

ROME (Reuters) - Italy have cancelled their tour of New Zealand this summer due to concerns around travelling during the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian Rugby Federation said on Monday.

The summer tour, scheduled for July, with two test matches against the All Blacks, will now not take place, leaving New Zealand Rugby scrambling to save their July test window.

"After constructive consultations between our federations and health authorities, to our deep regret, the current conditions made it preferable to concentrate energies at home ahead of the autumn series," FIR President Marzio Innocenti said in a statement.

The Azzurri are currently due to host the All Blacks in a November international as well as taking on Argentina and Uruguay in the same series.

Reports in New Zealand suggest there are plans to pit the All Blacks against Fiji in back-to-back tests and add Samoa to the three-game window instead this summer.

The All Blacks have never played an entire home series against Pacific Islands opposition.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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