The Six Nations could be about to do what was always thought unthinkable – move away from its traditional February and March place in the calendar and instead take place at the same time as a rescheduled Rugby Championship.
It was always felt that due to its dominance in the sport that the Six Nations was an immovable object and would ultimately remain the main stumbling block preventing an alignment between the dates of the main annual Test rugby championships north and south of the equator.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic having halted the sport globally and caused massive anxiety about its financial viability heading into the future, it appears that entrenched views have begun to soften to the changes required for a global calendar to happen.
According to the UK Telegraph, factions in the Six Nations set-up are now considering the idea of pushing their tournament back to March and April as part of a change that would see the Rugby Championship move forward from its traditional August start.
Not only that, but it is also reported that a conference call on Thursday discussed closing the annual June/July Test tour window and switching it to October. If so that would lead to a more concentrated block of international rugby where teams from the north would head south during October before the reverse would happen in November.
A source in the Telegraph said: “There would be willingness to move the Six Nations to March and April. It is difficult to play rugby in Australia in January and February, but switching the Rugby Championship to March/April would allow for that.”
The open-mindedness is a change from the hard line expressed earlier this month by Bill Beaumont. Following his re-election as World Rugby chairman, he said that the Six Nations would not move from its current slot.
“Nobody has ever mentioned to me that the Six Nations would move timescale but in my opinion, what would move are July and November,” said Beaumont. “Why would you move the Six Nations? It’s not affecting anyone else’s window on the global calendar. It’s a six-week tournament that has been played in February/March time since I was a lad.”
However, with rugby’s financial outlook far from healthy amid the pandemic, there appears to be momentum behind formulating a schedule that better aligns Test rugby on both sides of the equator and stops the current overlap between the Test and club game fixtures.
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