Monday, 20 November, 2017

Australia, New Zealand unions welcome rejigged calendar

Damian Mc Kenzie has played fullback so far this Super Rugby season Damian Mc Kenzie has played fullback so far this Super Rugby season
Spencer Simpson | 18 March, 2017, 01:09

Rob Nicholl, CEO of the International Rugby Players' Association, said they welcome the agreement of a calendar and appreciate the genuine consideration given to the player welfare needs of the world's top players throughout the process. Despite the optimism, the future of Super Rugby is still now up in the air after a meeting of SANZAAR last week in London to discuss its strategic direction and address criticism of the unwieldy 18-team format.

World Rugby has unveiled a new global calendar for 2020 onwards which will include shifting the June Test window back to July to allow the Super Rugby season to run uninterrupted.

According to Cheetahs boss Harold Verster an Australian team will be in the firing line when the competition is reduced from 18 to 16 teams. Instead they will be pushed back to the first three weeks in July, thereby allowing the completion of the Super Rugby Championship without interruption.

Mehrtens made the comments on Fox Sports following a meeting between Super Rugby bosses and partners over the weekend. The new July global window will dovetail with the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship that starts in August. They will no longer watch their off-field momentum evaporate before their eyes due to a four-week break at the pointy end of the season.

"Our best thing is to go just within this time zone here".

There were concessions, but on first reading the deal does not appear to contain any major black eyes for the ARU.

But with the 15-a-side code traditionally a winter sport in both the northern and southern hemispheres, all attempts to streamline the match programme have so far floundered, despite often repeated concerns about player welfare and burn-out. The rising nations of Europe, Georgia and Romania, will come somewhat out of the cold too by hosting games against the Six Nations countries in the July windows. The change will be welcomed by all in the Southern Hemisphere.

Getting to this point has taken more than a year of work.

"National unions have worked hard to agree this calendar which gives us great long term certainty around our worldwide fixtures". "From an Australian Rugby perspective, our number one priority was to ensure that we could move to an uninterrupted Super Rugby season and we are delighted to have reached that outcome".

"Agreement on an optimised global calendar that provides certainty and sustainability over the decade beyond Rugby World Cup 2019 represents an historic milestone for the global game", World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said.

World Rugby has promised more tests between top and second-tier nations and announced changes to the timing of worldwide windows in a new global calendar to run from 2020 to 2032. "Compromise has been achieved by all stakeholders in the spirit of collaboration", he added.

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