Rest weeks are common in the Six Nations

A rest week. Six Nations fallow week. A stick in the spokes of the tournament’s momentum…

Whichever way you view it, breaks in the schedule are built into the annual Six Nations running order. Today, the competition runs with a 2-1-2 format, with two rounds of championship action followed by a week off, another round of action, another week off, and then two more rounds of play. It’s why the men’s Six Nations runs from the start of February through to mid March.

Related: Six Nations history

During the first ever Six Nations, though, in 2000, the competition ran from 5 February through to the start of April.

In 2003, they landed at the format now used with the 2-1-2 set-up, although slightly later in the year – they ran from 15 February to 30 March.

What do Six Nations rest weeks involve?

With a break in Test action, league competition starts again and some squad players who are in need of game time will return to their clubs. There’s a full slate of games in the Gallagher Premiership, the United Rugby Championship, and in France’s Top 14.

But it has been known fallow weeks can see teams like England train in camp for three days and then let players go home and spend time with their families and friends.

In 2022, Scotland would run shape against their U20s side, in training, while Italy called up players from the Peroni Top 10 league to make up numbers.

Should they axe every Six Nations fallow week?

Discussions on axing one or two of the fallow weeks in the Six Nations have come up before, particularly with the need for a global rugby calendar always high on the sport’s agenda. How do you fit in all the rugby around the world?

Players representatives have pushed back on this in the past. It is incredibly physically demanding to play this level of Test rugby over and over, and no one want to give up the extra time of preparation too often, if they are playing Sunday one week and Saturday the next.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on FacebookInstagram and Twitter/X.