World Rugby signals global calendar agreement could be close

The Australian Rugby Union has expressed its support following news rugby powerbrokers have taken a “significant step” towards a global calendar.
Nanjing Night Net

Following a two-day meeting in San Francisco this week, World Rugby says major stakeholders have been working together in a bid to create a global calendar that could come into effect after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The meeting focused predominantly on the potential tweaking of the June and November international windows and the alignment of the northern and southern hemisphere domestic seasons.

The ARU has been a supporter of a global season for some time, given the financial value of an uninterrupted Super Rugby season as opposed to one in which a June Test series breaks up momentum in the form of crowd numbers and broadcast figures.

With a global calendar the June Test series would be pushed back to the first week of July, which would give the Wallabies a continuous run of matches through to their annual tour of the northern hemisphere.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said he was hopeful a recommendation would be made to the body’s council in May.

“During a positive, collaborative and highly productive forum, key principles were agreed that will underpin the development of the calendar, which has player welfare and the harmony of the international and club game at its heart,” Beaumont said.

“There is no silver bullet. Compromise has and will continue to be achieved by all stakeholders on the road to agreeing to an optimised calendar, but I would like to thank my union and professional league colleagues for their full contribution and commitment to a process that will ultimately benefit the whole game.

“I am optimistic that a recommendation will be made to the World Rugby Council in May.”

World Rugby said it would be “inappropriate to outline detail” at this stage, however there was enough momentum from the meeting to give the impression a global calendar was a more likely option down the track than not.

The key word in the statement is “compromise”, for while the ARU may get their wish to push the June series back a month, northern hemisphere unions might be compensated by not having to tour in the June after a World Cup year.

It would still be a high price to pay for southern hemisphere unions who rely heavily on the revenue made in those June series – which act as genuine money-spinners that can be the difference between making an end-of-year profit or not – as well as British and Irish Lions series that take place every 12 years.

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