Beaumont’s global calendar is ‘impossible’ before 2023
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.”