New global calendar up for discussion as international and club bosses set for major World Rugby meeting
A new global calendar will be up for discussion during a significant World Rugby meeting on Monday. Presidents and representatives from both hemispheres will take part in an online forum that will look at creating a new unified global rugby calendar.
With representatives from Test nations, professional clubs and all of the major competitions invited to take part in the online forum, the meeting could lead to major change in the global calendar.
A number of different scenarios are set to be presented, with the possibility of running the domestic seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time up for discussion.
World Rugby could also consider altering the international windows in order to allow an extended Test match period later in the year.
Any new calendar could also see the Six Nations be moved from its traditional slot in Feburary and March.
The discussion surrounding the club calendar is likely to prove more difficult.
There is expected to be some opposition to any restructuring from some of the major European clubs.
Speaking last week, Paul Goze, president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby in France, warned that some Top14 clubs will be wary of change.
“The first [point] is that if we play in those months in the summer, we lose the length of our competition,” Goze said.
“At the moment we occupy 10 months and it’s like a TV series.
“Every week there is a new moment in the series, and so everyone is talking about it and people are really involved — and our broadcaster, Canal Plus, likes that. That’s very important for our revenue.
“If you play in the summer it’s no good for ticketing because people are on holiday. It’s no good for our corporate sponsors because they can’t invite guests and do their entertainment.
“You have events like the Tour de France, the Olympic Games in some years and so on. The sports competitions and other distractions in July and August are just too much.”
Other clubs and leagues may share similar concerns.
In Ireland, for example, a new summer schedule would require the four Irish provinces to compete with the massively popular Gaelic Games, which run their annual championships across the summer.
A move to summer rugby could also see the end of the busy Christmas period for European clubs, where high-profile domestic and Champions Cup fixtures – such as the December back-to-backs in the Champions Cup – are massively important sources of revenue.
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