Rugby Championship set for August kick-off

Rugby Australia is targeting an August 7th start date for the Rugby Championship but is yet to work out the details with southern hemisphere partners.

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said that would give the Wallabies time to rest after the bunched-up three-test series against France.

"At a worst case we're looking at August 7th as the first possible date that (the Rugby Championship) could happen," he told reporters.

"There's a good two, maybe three weeks after this (France) test series in order for the guys to recoup, refresh and get themselves ready."

World champions South Africa pulled out of last year's Rugby Championship against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, citing player welfare concerns.

Marinos said all four nations were "really committed" to this year's tournament.

Australia's Super Rugby teams are scheduled to play New Zealand's in the trans-Tasman competition starting next week, a forerunner of a proposed competition with New Zealand and two Pacific sides in 2022.

The trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition is scheduled to finish in mid-June, leaving a month-and-a-half period before the Rugby Championship kicks off.

The All Blacks were set to host Italy for a two-test series in the July test window, however, it has been reported that the Italians have withdrawn from the series due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their late withdrawal has left New Zealand Rugby scrambling to organise an alternative schedule.

The NZR are now reportedly aiming to have the All Blacks play Fiji in back-to-back tests along with a fixture against Samoa.

This would represent the first time the All Blacks have played an entire home series against our Pasifika nations.

The All Blacks last played against Fiji in 2011 and Samoa in 2017.