Plan to shorten Six Nations for Lions’ sake
The Rugby Football Union and Celtic Unions are at loggerheads over a plan to ensure the British and Irish Lions have more time to prepare for tours.
Nigel Melville, the RFU interim chief executive, has attempted to instigate talks between Premiership clubs and the Lions regarding player release and training time.
But the clubs have resisted demands to cut their season by one week in seasons (every four years) when the Lions are touring, meaning Melville will revisit an old proposal.
The Lions are keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s tour of New Zealand, when the Warren Gatland-coached Lions arrived in the country just four days before their first fixture – against the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei. Previous attempts to reduce the Six Nations from seven to six weeks, by flagging one of two rest weekends, had been rejected.
The RFU is set to revisit the the plan ahead of the Lions’ tour of South Africa in 2021, which will consist of eight matches, two fewer than recent tours.
‘‘They need an extra week,’’ Melville told the Daily Mail. ‘‘If every four years we move the Six Nations from seven to six weeks, you create that. So why don’t we do that?’’
The overbearing influence of English clubs didn’t sit well with many after last year’s Lions’ tour, after they refused to alter their schedules.
Melville wants that to change, but isn’t holding his breath.