Beau­mont’s global cal­en­dar is ‘im­pos­si­ble’ be­fore 2023

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Daniel Schofield

The prospect of World Rugby en­act­ing mean­ing­ful re­form to the global cal­en­dar be­fore the 2023 World Cup is “prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble” ac­cord­ing to lead­ing sources within the game.

Cre­at­ing a uni­fied cal­en­dar be­tween both north and south as well as club and coun­try was the cen­tre­piece of Sir Bill Beau­mont’s man­i­festo in his re-elec­tion cam­paign as World Rugby chair­man this year. Fig­ures within World Rugby re­main op­ti­mistic that these re­forms could be en­acted by 2022.

How­ever, while the World Rugby Coun­cil last month ap­proved a tem­po­rary ex­tended au­tumn win­dow for 2020, English and French clubs re­main im­pla­ca­bly op­posed to that be­com­ing a per­ma­nent fea­ture of the cal­en­dar.

The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands the next for­mal meet­ing be­tween all the main stake­hold­ers is on Sept 7, more than two months since their last con­sul­ta­tion, which ended frac­tiously with Paul Goze, the pres­i­dent of the Ligue Na­tionale de Rugby, threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion.

“The level of con­sul­ta­tion be­tween World Rugby and the club game has been on such a low level that there was never an op­por­tu­nity to build an agree­ment,” a se­nior fig­ure told The Tele­graph.

“There is far more dis­agree­ment than there is con­sen­sus. It is way too late to come up with an agree­ment that will come in be­fore the World Cup. That ship has sailed.”

The unions’ pre­ferred model would be to scrap the July tour­ing win­dow and cre­ate an ex­tended Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber win­dow in which a new tour­na­ment, the Na­tions Cham­pi­onship, would be con­tested. The changes would force Euro­pean clubs to move their sea­son start date to De­cem­ber, which would run through to July.

“Why would you start a sea­son in De­cem­ber, which is the worst weather month and you also have the dis­trac­tion of Christ­mas?” a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tor said. “Then you fin­ish in July, a hol­i­day month, when you are go­ing to be clash­ing with the Olympics, World Cup and Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship. The RFU are still try­ing to push it through. The Premier­ship clubs are dead against it. My un­der­stand­ing is that any change will be post­poned for at least the next two years.”

There are also con­sid­er­able ob­sta­cles for World Rugby to over­come. The Li­ons tour of South Africa that will be­gin in July ef­fec­tively con­firms the start date of the 2021-22 sea­son. The Tele­graph also un­der­stands ne­go­ti­a­tions for the cre­ation of a World Club Cham­pi­onship, sched­uled for late 2022, are al­ready at an ad­vanced stage.

A World Rugby spokesper­son said: “All stake­hold­ers are com­mit­ted to ex­plor­ing mean­ing­ful re­form of the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar. This fully in­volves the English and French pro­fes­sional leagues.”

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