Six Nations set to resume in October


World Rugby will return Aug 2020 Image: World Rugby & Greenfields

The World Rugby Council has approved dates for a temporary international calendar in 2020, making way for the Six Nations to resume in October.

World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. World Rugby organizes the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport’s most recognized and most profitable competition. It also organizes a number of other international rugby competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, the World Under 20 Championship, and the Pacific Nations Cup.

The Council has given the green light to the adjustment to allow for the release of international players for the revised 2020 windows. World Rugby said the temporary change has been given the thumbs-up to mitigate for the impact of COVID-19 on the sport around the globe.

The window for the temporary global player release is October 24th to the first weekend of December, with the temporary Rugby Championship window to run from November 7th to the second weekend of December.

The window will enable the completion of the men’s and women’s Six Nations on October 24th and 31st, a rest weekend on November 7th, and then four consecutive rounds of international matches. The decision has been taken following extensive talks between the sport’s major stakeholders.

The Six Nations Championship is an annual international men’s rugby union competition between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.

Four matches from this year’s men’s Six Nations were deferred back in the Spring following the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus. England, Scotland, France and Wales have one match left to play, with Ireland and Italy having two. England sits on top of the heap as far as the men’s standings are concerned and is also one win away from winning the women’s event.

The Rugby Championship will take place over a reduced six-week period, with SANZAAR, the umbrella body of the South African, New Zealand, Australian and Argentinian rugby unions, having asked New Zealand to stage the same.

SANZAAR is the body which oversees Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship fixtures in Rugby Union. SANZAAR meets annually and comprises the head honchos from its member unions.

SANZAAR had already pinpointed New Zealand as the preferred destination for the rescheduled Rugby Championship. The tournament had been scheduled for August 8th to September 27th and was due to kick off with Australia vs. New Zealand in Melbourne but new dates have now been outlined.

World Rugby said the rescheduling of the domestic, European and international calendars will accommodate the ability for clubs to have access to star southern hemisphere internationals for the completion of the postponed and rescheduled 2019-20 seasons at a time when they would have ordinarily been on international duty in August and September.

World Rugby’s decision has come in for flak from the Ligue National de Rugby (LNR), organizer of French club competitions Top 14 and Pro D2. LNR has issued a formal notice to World Rugby and accused the sport’s global governing body of changing the international calendar “without any real consultation with the professional leagues and in particular the LNR”, media reports stated.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont stated, “The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in its impact on society and sport and throughout this process, all parties have sought to deliver the best-possible outcome to support the interests of international and club rugby and the players.”

“Agreement and approval of this schedule is exciting for players and fans and an important step in supporting our unions in mitigating financial impact and optimizing the sport’s return from the pandemic in an equitable way,” Beaumont added.

“These matches will be greatly anticipated by all, and I would like to thank unions, the international and club competitions and players for their input and the fans for their patience as we have sought to get international rugby back up and running,” the top shot affirmed.

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