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Author Topic: Six Nations 'open' to moving from traditional start date to synchronise global calendar  (Read 419 times)

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Gavin Mairs (Telegraph)
Working group representing northern and southern hemispheres held conference call on Thursday to discuss proposals
The proposal would move the Six Nations back in the year and the Rugby Championship forward 

The Six Nations may be moved from its traditional window of February and March to allow it to take place at the same time as the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship as part of a radical overhaul of the global calendar, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
It is understood that elements within the Six Nations are now said to be "open" to the idea of pushing the start of the championship back by a month to run during  March and April as part of a compromise with the southern hemisphere, which would also bring forward the start of their tournament from August.
A working group representing unions from the northern and southern hemispheres is understood to have held a conference call on Thursday to discuss proposals for a new global calendar and the option of switching the July Test window to October is now said to be by some sources as the “favoured” option.

That would involve northern hemisphere nations travelling to play southern hemisphere opposition in October before return matches in Europe in November, potentially forming part of a new global tournament.
A proposal that would make the Six Nations and Rugby Championship play at the same time during March and April is also gaining support given that it would minimise the overlap between the international and club games.
Sir Bill Beaumont, who has just been re-elected as chairman of World Rugby, had said last week that the Six Nations would not be expected to move from its traditional window as part of future negotiations but, significantly, a delayed start has not been dismissed out of hand by the member unions.
“I think there would be willingness to move the Six Nations to March and April,” said one source. “It is difficult to play rugby in Australia in January and February, but switching the Rugby Championship to March/April would allow for that.”
Both Premiership Rugby and its French counterpart sent a joint-letter to World Rugby this week demanding representation in talks about any rescheduling of international fixtures and it seems clear that there is a willingness within the unions to ensure that any new deal allows the club game to flourish.
The proposal to delay the start of the Six Nations, with the Rugby Championship played simultaneously, and shifting the July window to October, would free up around 30 weeks for clubs and regions to play.
Draft schedules would allow the club game to start in December, playing in two blocks – 13 weeks followed by 17 weeks – to allow the domestic tournaments to take centre stage more often and allow the best players to be available to play in more matches, subject to player welfare restrictions.
Discussions are ongoing and it is not yet clear, given the challenges facing all unions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, whether agreement will be possible in time for any new structure to be in place for the start of next season.
Meanwhile, the organiser of the Heineken Champions Cup has confirmed it hopes to stage this season’s final in Marseille on Oct 17.
With the Top 14 league not able to be completed because of France’s ban on sporting events until September, European Professional Club Rugby is considering an expansion of the tournament from 20 to 24 teams to compensate for qualifying issues.
A proposal for eight representatives from each of Europe's leading league competitions, played over eight weekends, is currently being discussed, although it would be for next season only.

Johan Ackerman, the Gloucester head coach, is poised to leave the Premiership club to join Japan club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

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Fearless Fred

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I could get behind the idea of the internationals being scheduled like that. March/April would have a better chance for better weather. Plus having the AIs at the same point in the season for both NH and SH squads will stop the silliness from some of the SH columnists that you get whenever a NH team beats a SH team (It's either "the NH team has hit their peak after the end of the season" if it's a win in July or "Our brave SH team was just exhausted because they're playing after a long season").


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The only concern would be that this would be at the business end of the season, when top spots in leagues are being contested, and cup games are getting to the interesting end of the competitions. Teams could be shorn of their internationals at the time they need them most. The other option would be to pull things like the cup competitions into the space created by the movement of the AIs, perhaps?


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Not sure I would agree with this. Easter is end March or April. Clashes with school holidays, Easter rugby club tours from schools upwards. Huge number of proper rugby people away And it would just become more corporate. Easter gates for Premiership rugby in west country is huge.

never sleep

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I think that eventually, the Premiership game will take place be between the 6 nations and the Autumn internationals.  I really hope that it doesn't.  I think rugby is a winter game.

But, I suspect that there will eventually be a mis-alignment in seasons between the other clubs and the premiership.
Clubs and schools will probably continue to start the season when kids get back from their summer holidays and play until Easter and then go on end of season tours , etc.  This fits in with exams at schools as they tend to be between Easter and Summer.  In my opinion, this calendar works and should not change.


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From the Beeb today:

The 10 top international teams are working to align the world calendar following the coronavirus disruption.

The Sanzaar nations - South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina - are in talks with the Six Nations teams.

At present, the international rugby windows differ in the northern and southern hemispheres.

A joint statement read: "The nations have sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise the international and club game have shared mutual benefits."

England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy are the Six Nations teams.

The statement added that a global calendar would "improve player welfare" and "improve narrative and competitiveness of international and domestic competitions around clear windows".

A harmonised schedule of fixtures - that would avoid conflicts between club and country for players' time and create more opportunities for lucrative matches between the biggest international teams - has been an ongoing issue in the sport.

A summit in San Francisco in 2017 failed to deliver large-scale change, however. Plans for a Nations Championship, to bring more fixtures and a structured format to the international game, failed to get off the ground in 2019.

Newly re-elected World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont told BBC Sport last month that he was hopeful that a revised Nations Championship could have enough support to become reality.

The outbreak has brought the game to a halt globally. While domestic rugby is set to restart in New Zealand on 13 June, the curtailed English Premiership and Pro14 are not likely to get back under way until at least August.


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I am loosing track of all these competitions moving,  but Sep/Oct has the final of the Euro Comps, 4 nations and Premiership final - a little crammed - I don’t think I shall fit them all in - how many weekends are there in those 2 months?



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