Another unprecedented idea has been floated amid the current rugby vacuum caused by the global coronavirus pandemic – that of playing a second Six Nations tournament in 2020 to fill the gap that would be left if next November’s planned tours by the southern hemisphere countries to Europe are cancelled.
It has already been a busy week in conjuring up new ideas – it was only Sunday night when it emerged from France that a Club World Cup has been mooted to replace the Champions Cup. French boss Bernard Laporte suggested 20 teams from across the world could play over a six-week period, finishing with a final.
If that sounds far-fetched, a more plausible calendar filler would be running a second Six Nations to make up for any cancellation of the traditional November Test series where the likes the All Blacks and the Springboks come north to take on the likes of England.
The November series is a massive money-spinner for the home unions and the loss of those fixtures would be another huge blow. For instance, England are due to host New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia on successive Saturdays in November 2020, with Wales set to host Fiji, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.
The stumbling block in running off a supplementary Six Nations to fill the void of the potentially cancelled November tour calendar is the need to wrap up the existing 2020 championship which still four matches remaining – Ireland versus Italy in Dublin, along with the entire round five schedule of Wales vs Scotland in Cardiff, Italy vs England in Rome and France vs Ireland in Paris.
With those games played, Sportsmail have claimed running a second Six Nations would become possible. “If Europe is past the worst but the southern hemisphere is still in the thick of it, you could have a second Six Nations,” claimed an unnamed source.
“If the autumn Tests don’t take place, every union would face serious issues. It would change the whole landscape for everybody.”
As things stand, the consensus had been that the postponed Super Saturday round five in the Six Nations would be rescheduled for October 31 with the Irish-Italian game happening the previous weekend.
However, rugby is in such a state of flux currently that RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney admitted last Thursday that the sport is dealing with a blank canvas.
“What has come out of this is an approach from all the unions north and south and World Rugby to restart with a blank sheet of paper and say that these really are exceptional times,” he said, explaining that a decision on the threatened July tours – England are in Japan, Ireland in Australia and Wales in New Zealand – must be taken by the end of April.
“You can imagine there is god knows how many different contingency plans and different options you can put together should the July tours be off.
“It would be premature to say now are there favoured options amongst those, but there is a number we are looking at to ensure that when we are given the go-ahead to play that we will have the matches in place, we will have the ability for the fans to get back together, we will have the ability for the players to get back on the field and compete and we are going through that process now.”
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