Ten of the leading international rugby union teams are exploring the possibility of a new aligned schedule.
South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina – the nations that make up SANZAAR – and the half a dozen countries that compete in the Six Nations are aiming to collaborate for the sport’s benefit.
Several unions have been affected by the impact of coronavirus, with World Rugby having postponed all July Tests and setting aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.
Now discussions are ongoing between SANZAAR and Six Nations boards over a new calendar designed to limit club-versus-country rows and create more lucrative games between the world’s best teams.
A joint statement read: “Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish.”
It added: “The nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path.”
World Rugby responded to the news with a statement, which read: “World Rugby welcomes commitment from the Six Nations and SANZAAR for closer collaboration to ensure a more harmonious global calendar for all stakeholders.
“World Rugby has consistently supported and championed reform of the international calendar for the betterment of the sport as a whole, including all unions, international and club competition organisers and players.
“Within regular and productive discussions between stakeholders, World Rugby is working to ensure that any calendar outcome recognises the global nature of our sport, and therefore the competition needs of all nations at all levels.
“Any proposed competition model must also prioritise player welfare considerations, the women’s game, and protect the funding model of the wider game which is driven by the growth in the value of Rugby World Cup.
“World Rugby looks forward to further close collaboration with all parties to reach the best outcome for the global game. A decision on any adjustment to the current global calendar and its international release windows will be considered and taken by the World Rugby Council.”
Last month World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont suggested a Nations Championship – similar to cricket’s recently formed ICC Test Championship – could get off the ground after being met with initial resistance.
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