Premier­ship anx­i­ety over World Rugby plan for Tests in De­cem­ber

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Ben Coles

Premier­ship Rugby have ex­pressed their con­cern over World Rugby’s pro­posed in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar for 2020, which could mean Test matches be­ing played in De­cem­ber.

The plans would sched­ule Test matches be­tween the week­ends around Oct 24 and Dec 5, wrap­ping up the de­layed Six Na­tions matches from the spring, be­fore an eight­team tour­na­ment in the north­ern hemi­sphere fea­tur­ing the Six Na­tions sides plus Ja­pan and Fiji.

The new Premier­ship sea­son is due to get un­der way on Nov 20, with Premier­ship Rugby stat­ing that the pro­posal has un­der­cut pos­i­tive talks be­tween the league and the Rugby Foot­ball Union re­gard­ing reg­u­la­tion nine, which cov­ers the re­lease of club play­ers to play in­ter­na­tional rugby.

Premier­ship Rugby added that a sce­nario in which in­ter­na­tional play­ers are un­avail­able to play in the Premier­ship in De­cem­ber “needs to be avoided”.

“Ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances have been cre­ated for sport by the Covid-19 pan­demic, and dis­cus­sions be­tween the Premier­ship and the RFU on how to ac­com­mo­date the needs of the in­ter­na­tional and club game in Eng­land dur­ing the global pan­demic have been pro­gress­ing pos­i­tively,” read Premier­ship Rugby’s state­ment.

“Premier­ship Rugby now urges World Rugby to restart the global dis­cus­sions to unify the Unions and pro­fes­sional leagues and agree to a tem­po­rary plan that works for all.

“We re­gret World Rugby’s uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion to im­pose changes in the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar on our clubs through a tem­po­rary amend­ment to reg­u­la­tion nine, when progress is be­ing made with the RFU to reach a com­pro­mise for the ben­e­fit of all. The confirmati­on from World Rugby that any change to reg­u­la­tion nine is a tem­po­rary mea­sure for this year only, and will not be used as a prece­dent for fu­ture cal­en­dar changes on a sim­i­lar ba­sis, is wel­come.

“Premier­ship Rugby and its clubs have al­ready of­fered com­pro­mises and agreed to stretch the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional win­dow from four week­ends to six, of­fer­ing a so­lu­tion that would al­low the com­ple­tion of the Six Na­tions tour­na­ment, ac­com­mo­date an ex­tra game with Eng­land v Bar­bar­ians, and al­low for the four in­ter­na­tional matches

in the Novem­ber win­dow. The Premier­ship has also agreed to start the 2020-21 Gal­lagher Premier­ship Rugby sea­son dur­ing the 2020 in­ter­na­tional win­dow, on Nov 20, to al­low the cam­paign to be com­pleted be­fore next sum­mer’s Li­ons tour.

“So a fur­ther tem­po­rary amend­ment to reg­u­la­tion nine, which gov­erns player re­lease for Test matches, for week­ends in De­cem­ber, would have a fur­ther im­pact on the Premier­ship and needs to be avoided.”

Mean­while, Sara­cens in­tend to host South African fran­chise the

Storm­ers at the Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur Sta­dium next year, the club an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The fix­ture would see sev­eral of Eng­land’s World Cup fi­nal­ists, in­clud­ing Owen Far­rell and Maro Itoje, face off against a num­ber of Spring­bok world cham­pi­ons, in­clud­ing cap­tain Siya Kolisi and World Rugby men’s player of the year, Pi­eter-Steph du Toit.

On the coach­ing front, new­lypro­moted New­cas­tle Fal­cons have an­nounced the ap­point­ment of for­mer Eng­land No 8 Nick Easter as their de­fence coach ahead of their re­turn to the Premier­ship.

Big chal­lenge: Eng­land’s Maro Itoje (right) and Owen Far­rell could face the Storm­ers

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