A global rugby season still seems a long way from becoming a reality, after plans for an adjusted calendar were rejected at World Rugby’s professional forum.
The game’s major stakeholders including clubs and countries took part in the forum overnight, to discuss restructuring the current calendar to better align the international game between the northern and southern hemispheres.
World Rugby, Sanzaar, the Six Nations, the British and Irish Lions and representatives of elite European club’s were among those in attendance.
However in a statement, World Rugby said the parties couldn’t agree on any proposals, meaning the global season, for now, is dead in the water.
“Whilst not a decision-making forum, today’s World Rugby Professional Game Forum provided the platform for national unions, international and professional club competitions and players to exchange frank views and consider immediate and long-term calendar reform in line with the guiding core principles of recognising the needs of the international and domestic game and enhancing player welfare.
“In the absence of full alignment, further information sharing and discussion will be undertaken with all parties regarding the viability of proposed adjustments to the 2020 international release weekends stipulated in Regulation 9 that will enable postponed and other international matches to be played in an adjusted window from October, while enabling the completion of existing club competitions. The final decision on 2020 will be confirmed by vote of the World Rugby Council on 30 June following consideration and recommendation by the World Rugby Executive Committee.
“All stakeholders believe that meaningful reform of the international calendar is necessary in a much-changed post COVID-19 environment to revitalise the global game and deliver much-needed alignment between international and club rugby with fewer overlaps and enhanced player rest periods.
“Crucially, if managed appropriately, the proposed long-term calendar reform will enable meaningful pathways for emerging nations on a global and regional scale and the development of a global international women’s competition model with defined windows that do not overlap with the men’s competitions.”
The result of the forum is unsurprising, given European clubs had reportedly signalled their intent to block any proposal – worried a change of current schedules would slash their big money broadcast deals.