NZ likely to host Tonga and Wales rugby matches

New Zealand is likely to host Wales’ 2017 proposed tour of Tonga and Samoa.

Tonga could not host the match because its national stadium is under construction in preparation for the South Pacific Games 2019.

Global media reports said Wales’s South Pacific tour is in doubt because of concerns over facilities and medical cover.

Tests were scheduled in Samoa and Tonga in June, but the games could be moved to New Zealand.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) say it wants to play on the islands, but will pursue alternatives if guarantees over player welfare are not met.

The sport’s governing body, World Rugby, helps tier two countries meet costs of hosting tier one nations.

World Rugby helped with appropriate medical cover when New Zealand played Samoa in Apia in 2015.

A delegation from World Rugby is scheduled to travel to Tonga and Samoa within the next fortnight to assess whether facilities in each country are fit for purpose.

The original itinerary for Wales’ tour was thought to include a third Test in Fiji, but BBC Wales understands this is no longer part of the schedule.

A contingency plan is in place to play the games in New Zealand, with Auckland the most likely venue given its large populations with Samoan and Tongan heritage.

Fans and travel companies are currently in a state of limbo, with hundreds having registered for the tour.

Wales last toured the Pacific Islands in 1994.

The WRU say it expects a final decision to be made by the end of October.

A spokesman for the Samoan Rugby Union said: “At this stage we can’t comment as the match has not yet been confirmed by World Rugby.”

The Tongan Rugby Union has also been asked to comment, but has not yet responded.

-BBC

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