THE Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this autumn is set to be postponed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

World Rugby has recommended that the tournament, due to run from September 18 to October 16, be pushed back to 2022.

The decision will be considered by the Rugby World Cup board and World Rugby executive committee next week.

Wales had learnt their fixture order with daunting clashes with the hosts and Australia, plus a yet-to-be-decided qualifier.

“While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family,” read a statement.

“The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape.

“It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.

“The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions.

“World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.”

Wales’ Six Nations campaign has already been pushed back because of the pandemic.