Premiership anxiety over World Rugby plan for Tests in December
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