With every day that passes, the challenges that rugby faces over the coming months during the Covid-19 pandemic become clearer. Not only has Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney revealed the financial losses that have and could happen in England alone, but a timescale for the potential length of this suspension of rugby is also becoming clearer, particularly in the northern hemisphere.
Some leagues have already abandoned their season, while others are still holding on hope. The Guinness PRO14 is one that is teetering on annulling its 2019/20 campaign and preparing for the next – whenever that may be. If that were to happen, ex-Wales out-half Jonathan Davies has suggested that the first steps towards an eventual resumption towards rugby in that league should be taken in-house.
Taking to Twitter, Davies has floated the idea that rather than wait for the travel restrictions to lift in a PRO14 tournament that caters for teams from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa and Italy, he believes that players at the four Welsh regions could perhaps turn out for clubs in the local Premiership so that they could get back playing before the cross-border five-nation league resumes.
The idea of players temporarily switching to domestic rugby is something that has already been discussed in Australia and New Zealand, as Super Rugby would face even more travel complications than the PRO14 given the even greater distances it straddles.
If fans were able to attend these local games in Wales, it’s unlikely there would be a dip in attendances. If anything, there should be rise due to the number of age-old rivalries that would be played out with star players involved. These were the rivalries that underpinned the game in Wales before it was regionalised in 2003.
With travel restrictions expected, which might effect the pro14. Would it be an idea to go back to the club sides in Wales for a period? Only a suggestion.
— Jonathan Davies OBE (@JiffyRugby) May 5, 2020
The reality, though, is that games – if they went ahead – would probably be played behind closed doors. Still, Davies’ idea is a further indication of the different avenues that must be explored if rugby is to get going again.
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