New World Rugby Global Calendar Options
World Rugby has been giving fans an opportunity to input on new possible global calendar options to align the game via an online survey.
(Photo Feature Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union)
The debate around re-aligning some sort of global rugby season has been ongoing for some time, and in 2019 the idea of a World Rugby Nations Championship was eventually voted against.
World Rugby is also trying to entice rugby fans with prizes if they complete the online survey with rugby jerseys and Rugby World Cup 2021 replica balls are up for grabs.
We completed the survey this week and found some of the options World Rugby is considering interesting for international rugby and professional club tournaments.
Instead of the current tests and tours that take place in July and November each year during the currently assigned ‘international windows’, there would be 2 cup competitions each year that involve the top 16 international rugby teams – an International Cup that would take place in non-World Cup and Lions tour years.
Elite Cup and Challenger Cup
Rugby nations would participate in either the ‘Elite Cup’ or the ‘Challenger Cup’ based on their results from the Six Nations, The Rugby Championship and/or World Rankings that season.
- The Elite Cup: Include the top 3 nations from the Six Nations (Northern Hemisphere), the top 3 from The Rugby Championship (Southern Hemisphere), plus 2 top Northern and Northern Emerging Nations.
- The Challenger Cup: Include the bottom 3 from the Six Nations (Northern Hemisphere), 4th ranked Southern Hemisphere team and 4 Emerging nations from all regions.
- Each Group would have 2 Northern Hemisphere Teams and 2 Southern Hemisphere Teams.
- Each competition would be organised in 2 groups of 4 teams with a final between the winner of each group.
- During the tournament, nations will play 4 matches in a round-robin format (home & away) against nations from the alternate Hemisphere (North vs. South).
- After these four fixtures, there would be a Semi-Final and a Final as well as a play-off involving all 16 teams.
An example of how the teams line up was provided:
In addition, the survey asks fans about their thoughts on the current professional club seasons.
The survey says “Currently in the Northern Hemisphere (Europe) the major adult men’s professional club competitions – Pro 14, Premiership Rugby, Heineken Champions Cup and Ligue Nationale de Rugby – generally take place between September and June.
In the Southern Hemisphere (SANZAAR – South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia) the major club competitions such as Super Rugby generally take place between February and June.
How would you feel about a professional club calendar that moved from the current two international breaks of one month (July and November) to one international break of two months (October/November)?”
What next for World Rugby?
This survey does ignore the Japan Top League, which itself is finding it difficult to decide what it wants to be and is meeting a lot of uncertainty. The professional league is attracting a number of international rugby players to Japan.
The survey also does not address the confusion over the future of some of the club competitions – which teams will be playing in the leagues as both the Super Rugby and Pro 14 (16?) appear to be heading for changes in the coming seasons.
Although the largest amount of finance and recognised international players are in the leagues mentioned, it doesn’t take into account developing rugby nations such as the Major League Rugby in the USA or if a league such as the Rapid Rugby will resume and include Asia-Pacific teams.
World Rugby has not clarified how it will use the data from the fans completing the surveys. With a number of major rugby sporting events happening in the next few years. The women’s RWC 2021 in New Zealand, Tokyo 7s Olympics, and Lions tour to South Africa are all taking place in 2021, so moving towards a newly aligned rugby season seems as daunting as ever.
Last week, World Rugby confirmed its current CEO, Brett Gosper would be leaving his role in early 2021 to take over at NFL Europe. Chief Operating Officer Alan Gilpin will perform the role of World Rugby interim Chief Executive, between Gosper’s departure in January 2021 and the appointment of a new Chief Executive.
The new CEO will have a lot to deal with in the role to map out the future of the global game.
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