The League Nationale de Rugby (LNR) have rowed in behind a World Rugby decision to back maintaining twin international windows in July and November.
It appears that the competing idea of a combined October/November window every year has now been binned, and all parties are moving ahead on the principle of July and November windows, with any changes to be made falling within those two time slots.
World Rugby want to give Tier 2 nations the chance to develop while also allowing a calendar that recognizes the need to lower the workload on professional players.
The body have stressed that the management of player welfare is “at the heart of decision-making” on any calendar going forward.
World Rugby issued a statement yesterday saying that they had “determined that competition format change is the key to increasing interest and value, while retaining the existing July and November windows delivers the optimal environment for any new competition to be implemented from a player welfare, union and professional league financial, broadcasters and fans perspective.”
It’s a move that has been backed by the LNR, who along with Premiership Rugby Ltd, have typically locked horns with the sport’s governing body over international windows and push for a global calendar. The release of players for international windows has frequently been a bugbear of privately run England and French clubs who are eager to get the most out of their well-paid employees. As such, the apparent agreement of all parties involved seems like a significant step forward for the arrival of a new global calendar in 2024.
The LNR statement reads: “The National Rugby League takes note of the World Rugby announcements on further evolution discussions the format of international competitions.”
“World Rugby today communicated on the principles guiding further work on the evolution of international competition formats from 2024. This communication indicates that the changes likely to be made will be part of the framework of the current calendar structure which foresees two “international windows” in July and November.
“The National Rugby League welcomes this announcement, and wishes to get involved fully and collaborate constructively in the pursuit of this work, with the shared objective of strengthening the promotion of international competitions while respecting a balance with club competitions.”
The International Rugby Players union have also backed the spirit of collaboration between all parties involved, with CEO Omar Hassanein saying: “With all sides working together, I’m confident that we will find a long-term model that works for players and fans alike, increases broadcast interest, boosts the financial position of the game and strategically grows emerging nations.”
The World Rugby statement emerged on the same day that New Zealand Rugby received a $465million offer from US technology investment giants Silver Lake for a 15 per cent share of commercial rights valued at $3.1billion.
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