The formation of a new, eight-team competition to be staged in the Northern Hemisphere is being widely spoken about in rugby circles all over.
According to the irishtimes.com, the current Six Nations teams could be joined by Fiji and Georgia to forge the unique tournament.
The feasibility of Fiji and Georgia being the two “wild card” teams is based on the fact that most of the Fijian and Georgian international play their club rugby in on the European stage and would thus be available without having to rely on significant travel.
World Rugby is hoping to provide some clarity this week on a Test match fixture list for the remainder of the year, including dates and kick-off times for the outstanding 2020 Six Nations Championship matches and potentially an eight-team tournament that would involve Ireland, England Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Fiji and Georgia and culminate in a final on December 5th.
Rugby’s global governing body rescheduled a meeting originally pencilled in for the end of last month in the hope that the additional timeframe would assist in brokering an agreement in relation to Test rugby for the remainder of the calendar year.
Andy Farrell’s Ireland are expected to play Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, October 24th and France in Paris on October 31st, coronavirus permitting. Ireland were due to host Australia, South Africa and Japan over successive weekends, starting on November 7th with a clash against Dave Rennie’s Wallabies.
However, given the Covid-19 pandemic there is little prospect of any southern hemisphere teams travelling north, so instead in a bid to boost revenue for the beleaguered unions, there is a proposal currently being thrashed out to run an eight-team tournament; two pools of four teams, each country plays three matches, with those who finish top of the respective groups meeting in a final on December 5th.
There has been plenty of media speculation, especially in England, as to the identity of the two countries who will supplement the Six Nations’ constituents. The 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) tournament hosts Japan, and Fiji, have been regularly mentioned but it makes more sense that due to coronavirus and travel restrictions for Georgia to be chosen ahead of the Japan.
The majority of the Fijian and Georgian squads play professional rugby in France and Britain which would facilitate the two countries playing in the tournament, minimising travel and the attendant restrictions. The inclusion of a brace of Tier 2 nations would also be a positive step down a road with some way still to travel.