With reports this weekend suggesting that the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa hangs in the balance, a radical Six Nations alternative is being suggested that could see fans back in stadiums and watching rugby – in the northern hemisphere at least.

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The Daily Mail report that the series could be officially cancelled by organisers within a month, with Covid-19 running rampant in the Rainbow Nation. Added to this, it has been suggested the vaccines now being rolled out in Europe may not be available in SA until significantly later in the year, leaving faint hope that fans will be able to attend matches.

It’s a near unfathomable scenery for rugby fans in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, but there may be a possible silver lining if the series was scrapped.

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Many are now suggesting moving the upcoming Guinness Six Nations to the summer and delaying the Lions tour until 2022. This would allow fans to attend Six Nations games, which seems highly unlikely given the current schedule which sees the first match played the weekend of February 6th.

Former England flyhalf and rugby pundit Andy Goode wrote: “The Lions tour is obviously under threat due to the pandemic, wouldn’t it be sensible to push back the Six Nations Rugby until the Summer and postpone the Lions tour to the Summer of 22? The clubs then get some weekends spare & fans might watch the 6 Nations in the grounds?

It’s not as whacky as it might sound, and Goode wasn’t the only one suggesting it.  “Consideration must surely be given to moving the Six Nations to the summer when fans can hopefully return, meaning the Lions tour to South Africa being put back a year despite being so close to next World Cup. 6N and Lions tour without fans inconceivable,” wrote Welsh journalist Robin Dewey.

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“Speaking to a few friends based in South Africa and they don’t think they’ll start vaccinating until June. If true how can the Lions tour go ahead? Surely postpone until 2022 and move the Six Nations to the summer where there’s a better chance of crowds?”

There are number of stumbling blocks for such a plan of course.

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Most of the home nations have major tours booked for 2022 and will be expected to fulfill those tours with full-strength squads. However, maybe the most significant problem, as Sonja McLaughlan points out, is the broadcasting of the Summer Olympics in Toyko, which was itself bumped into 2021 due to the virus.

“TV on the scale of 6N or Olympics takes huge amount of planning. Then you’ve got to staff it. Majority of talent, producers, editors, camera operators etc who do 6N will be working on Olympics. I’m not inventing a problem just pointing out realities,” wrote McLaughlan.

In the mad times we’re living through, with rugby games and entire tournaments being juggled in a manner which would have here-to-fore have been unimaginable, one might be shy to bet against such a radical course of action.

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