Bill Beaumont has revealed World Rugby have been stress-testing its rugby calendar in the hope that the sport can quickly pick up where it left off before the season-stopping coronavirus pandemic.
Rugby around the world has ground to halt in recent weeks, Tuesday’s postponement of the sevens events at the now deferred Tokyo Olympics the latest setback for a sport that has been under siege with headline events such as the Guinness Six Nations, Super Rugby and the Gallagher Premiership all benched.
In the face of this unprecedented crisis in the professional era, World Rugby held a joint virtual meeting of its international federation executive committee and professional game committee on Monday to assess the potential damage and to plot a way forward out of the mess.
Chairman Beaumont said: “These are very difficult and entirely unprecedented times for society and sport. Our primary and immediate responsibility is to ensure the health and wellbeing of the global rugby community and to collectively support those in need.
“Solidarity is one of the foundations of rugby’s character-building values, and there has never been a time when our sense of solidarity, respect and friendship has been more important. At this crucial moment it was reassuring to see all parties unified through shared purpose in this initial exploratory discussion.
“The latest projections are that the impact of Covid-19 on public and sporting activities could extend for many more weeks, maybe months, and this productive meeting was an important and unified step towards tackling a global problem together in the best interests of all stakeholders.
“We are intensively examining potential scenario planning for the scheduled July internationals, should such a plan be required, while also considering ways to optimise the international competition calendar on and off the field for all when it is safe and appropriate to resume rugby activities.
“This important work will be undertaken by the World Rugby executive under guidance from the executive committee and we will work in full partnership with key stakeholders to explore potential appropriate actions.
“I’m encouraged by the nature of these initial discussions and would like to thank all involved for their commitment to the global cause. Only by working in full partnership with our unions, the professional leagues and International Rugby Players, will we be able to deliver a solution that will reduce the impact of this extraordinary challenge on our sport.”
World Rugby added that it will be convening similar discussions with its regions and unions outside of the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship competitions.
WATCH: Ben Foden chats to Jim Hamilton in the latest episode of The Lockdown, the new RugbyPass series
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.