Here are your rugby morning headlines from Wales and beyond for Friday, August 14.
Fresh hope for Wales rugby crowds as sport crowd trials back on in England
The WRU has been given fresh hope of Wales fans being able to attend autumn internationals with the news that pilot events to test the safe return of spectators will resume in England from Saturday.
Due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in England, Boris Johnson had pulled the plug on trials due to begin at the start of August, in what was supposed to be the first step in a plan to get crowds back to matches from October 1.
Now, the pilots have been sanctioned by the UK Government, starting with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre this weekend, with a full pilot programme to follow.
All fans will likely be urged not to chant or shout, The Sun reports.
The Welsh Government has previously said it would monitor the results of such pilot events before making its own decision for Wales and the green light for trials will be a fresh boost to the WRU and Wales fans, with the governing body desperate to generate some revenue as they face a £50m financial black hole if no tickets can be sold for matches this year.
The UK Government's culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The nation's hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19 secure leisure businesses."
If the trials prove to be successful, the October return for crowds in England would see Wales play their six autumn rugby fixtures in London, with the Principality Stadium definitely out of use due to being on standby as a field hospital, no matter what the Welsh Government's stance on sporting crowds by then. Stadiums at Twickenham, Tottenham, Arsenal or West Ham are seen as options.
If crowds are not allowed in either England or Wales, the WRU would abort the London plans they are making and are likely to play Wales' matches at Parc y Scarlets or potentially Rodney Parade.
First rugby union match in UK after five months
Gallagher Premiership action resumes on Friday night following a five-month break as Harlequins take on Sale at Twickenham Stoop.
Along with the PRO14, the league was placed into hibernation in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the remaining nine rounds of the Premiership will now resume with the second-placed Sharks travelling to take on Quins.
Sale, who will give a debut to England centre Manu Tuilagi following his move from Leicester, trail leaders Exeter by five points in a title race that also features Bristol, Northampton and Wasps.
Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond believes all teams are effectively starting from scratch
"It's been that long since we played that there's no point looking at what we did in our last games," he said.
"The sides that manage rest will be the sides that do their best over the next few weeks, as long as there are no Covid outbreaks."
Chris Ashton will make his debut for Quins against the club he left for Twickenham Stoop in March and elsewhere Paul Gustard's team are strengthened by the return of Mike Brown from a knee injury and the end of Joe Marchant's Super Rugby sabbatical.
Meanwhile, PRO14 rugby resumes in Wales on August 22, with two rounds of Welsh derbies closing the campaign before the play-offs. You can read more here.
Final game of Super Rugby Aotearoa cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreak
The final game of Super Rugby Aotearoa between Blues and Crusaders on Sunday has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland, it has been confirmed.
The Crusaders claimed the title for the domestic Super Rugby competition last week with a win over the Highlanders, but their final round fixture has been called off after Auckland’s Level 3 lockdown was extended by the New Zealand Government.
The sell-out match, which would have hosted more than 40,000 fans at Eden Park, will not go ahead and the match will be considered a draw with both teams awarded two points.
Elsewhere, Saturday's game between the Highlanders and Hurricanes will be played without fans. It has been moved from 7pm to 3pm due to protocols which say teams must fly in and out of cities hosting matches on the same day to limit public interaction.
Australia given 2027 World Cup bid boost
World Rugby's plans to announce the next two men's and women's Rugby World Cup hosts simultaneously will be a fresh boost to Australia in their bid to host in 2027.
The United States are set to top the early queue to host the men's 2031 event as governing body World Rugby aims to offset the impact of Covid-19 by mapping out a long-term plan for the global tournaments.
The next women's Rugby World Cup will be staged in New Zealand in 2021.
Chief executive Brett Gosper has admitted World Rugby might never have taken the "risk" to award the hugely successful 2019 World Cup to Japan without naming England as the 2015 hosts simultaneously.
Should the pattern of installing a rugby heartland host followed by an emerging nation now repeat itself, then Australia would likely claim hosting rights for 2027, allowing the developing market of the USA to stage the competition four years later.
Speaking on the decisions for 2015 and 2019, Gosper said: "People were able to use the certainty of a World Cup in a market like England with, 'let's be a bit bolder and braver and go to less-known [rugby] areas of the world and try and drive the sport from a development point of view'.
"And that risk, as it was seen at the time, was well worth taking. But probably if we didn't have a dual-awarding system we would not have ended up in Japan."
France are hosting the 2023 tournament, Australia and Russia have signalled intent to bid to host the 2027 men's World Cup, with Argentina also in the running. World Rugby's official bidding process opens in February 2021.