The mid-year Oceania Cup Tests involving New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands have been postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Also Read - 'Mann Ki Baat' Today: PM Modi's First Radio Address After India Entered Into Lockdown Mode to Fight COVID-19

However, the Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC) remains committed to delivering Oceania Cup fixtures in October-November. Also Read - COVID-19: 194 New Cases Emerge in Single Day, Death Toll Reaches 23; Is India Ready For Stage 3?

The APRLC board held an emergency meeting on Thursday to consider the impact of current and fast-changing restrictions on sport, travel and public gatherings caused by coronavirus. Also Read - BSF Officer, Posted at Quarantine Centre in Madhya Pradesh, Tests Positive; Wife With Travel History to UK Isolated

The meeting was attended by APRLC board members representing all International Rugby League (IRL) full member nations within APRLC – Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa (Tonga National Rugby League remains suspended from the IRL).

The board determined that planning to proceed with the fixtures scheduled for Auckland on June 20 (New Zealand v Tonga and Samoa v Cook Islands) was not viable.

Even if restrictions were to be lifted before the event date, it is not feasible to undertake the work required to deliver matches in June amid the current uncertainty.

In addition, the board noted that postponing mid-season Oceania Cup matches may assist the NRL by freeing up the June representative round weekend should they require extra flexibility in scheduling.

“There are still a lot of moving parts, but this is the prudent way to go, and the best option to ensure all nations due to participate in Oceania Cup can play at least one international this year,” said APRLC chair, Sandis Tsaka.

“The APRLC board acknowledges that the ongoing uncertainty and restrictions around sport, travel and mass gatherings in Australia and New Zealand may necessitate further changes to planning, but we believe this is the most sensible position to adopt at this point in time,” agreed APRLC deputy chair, Greg Peters.

“We are grateful to the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) for their ongoing support of Oceania Cup, and for acknowledging the importance of these fixtures for a large contingent of the playing group,” added IRL southern hemisphere general manager, Jeremy Edwards.