Northern and southern hemispheres looking to develop an aligned calendar
Six Nations and SANZAAR working on global calendar
A ‘global season’ has long been rugby’s holy grail. Yet aligning the northern and southern hemisphere calendars, as well as ensuring fewer clashes with club fixtures, is a complicated task.
However, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have sparked a spirit of negotiation between north and south, one that is particularly needed given the perilous financial situation many national unions and clubs find themselves in.
A joint statement from the Six Nations and SANZAAR, which runs the Rugby Championship, talks about the two parties “working closely” and hoping to “eliminate self-interest”.
They have put forward a set of key principles that are underpinning discussions. They are:
- Significantly mitigate overlaps between club and country fixtures
- Better aligned player release windows for players, stakeholders and competitions
- Improve player welfare
- Improve narrative and competitiveness of international and domestic competitions around clear windows
- Define clear high-performance pathways for emerging nations through the delivery of an internationally more inclusive game
- Evolve competition structures that are underpinned with enhanced commercial offerings
- Restore public faith in the core values of rugby and showing strong collective leadership in the best interests of the game.
There has already been talk of the Six Nations moving back a few weeks as well as back-to-back international windows in October and November, but could the Rugby Championship also move to a different time of year? How do the emerging nations fit into the season structure? The detail is always the hardest part to nail down.
Here is the joint statement in full: “Following the World Rugby meetings in March this year, SANZAAR and the Six Nations (‘the Nations’) have been working closely over the lockdown period against a set of key principles between the parties, to develop and agree proposals for an aligned global calendar.
“Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the Nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish.
“A further consultation process, in total transparency with unions, clubs and players, will commence as all parties work towards an aligned global calendar that can deliver a clear and coherent narrative.
“The Nations together with other key stakeholders remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path.”
World Rugby responded with a statement of their own, saying: “World Rugby welcomes commitment from the Six Nations and SANZAAR for closer collaboration to ensure a more harmonious global calendar for all stakeholders.
“World Rugby has consistently supported and championed reform of the international calendar for the betterment of the sport as a whole, including all unions, international and club competition organisers, and players.
“Within regular and productive discussions between stakeholders, World Rugby is working to ensure that any calendar outcome recognises the global nature of our sport, and therefore the competition needs of all nations at all levels.
“Any proposed competition model must also prioritise player welfare considerations, the women’s game, and protect the funding model of the wider game which is driven by the growth in the value of Rugby World Cup.
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