options open

No formal discussions yet as Wales boss Pivac says 2021 Six Nations could be delayed

Tournament organisers are considering all options amidst serious financial worries within the sport.

THE SIX NATIONS says it has not formally discussed the possibility of delaying the start of the 2021 Six Nations.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has suggested that next year’s championship could start later due to Covid-19 restrictions potentially preventing supporters from attending games.

Next year’s championship is currently scheduled to begin on 6 February but as fears continue to grow that fans will not be back in stadiums in notable numbers at that stage, Pivac indicated that tournament organisers are keeping their options open.

james-ryan-with-alun-wyn-jones-in-a-line-out Ireland are due to visit Cardiff on the opening weekend of the 2021 Six Nations. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Clearly, moving the Six Nations from its current slot from 6 February to 20 March would require major adjustments elsewhere in the rugby calendar, while there is no guarantee that supporters could return to venues at a later date.

But having supporters back in stadiums for Test matches is essential for the unions involved in the Six Nations, with all of them facing serious financial issues at present.

In March of this year, the IRFU had a cash surplus of almost €30 million but CEO Philip Browne says that if crowds don’t return to games before the mid-point of 2021, the union would need to borrow up to €11 million.

A spokesperson for the Six Nations said nothing has been formally discussed in relation to potentially delaying the 2021 Championship as they instead concentrate on completing the rescheduled 2020 fixtures, which resume with Ireland hosting Italy in Dublin on 24 October.

“There have been no formal discussions to move the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship and at this point, all our focus is on completing the remaining fixtures from the 2020 Championship,” reads a Six Nations statement.

“As is the case for many sports, a key priority for rugby stakeholders is the return of fans to stadia and we are working with all relevant authorities and governing bodies to find a suitable and safe solution to achieve this.” 

Wales head coach Pivac yesterday suggested that the 2021 Six Nations could kick-off later than currently scheduled.

“Who knows when the next Six Nations will be played?” said Pivac, as reported by The Telegraph. “There is talk that it may be pushed out slightly, with the current climate around what this virus might be doing.

“I think there are going to be discussions that are ongoing and that’s the smart thing to be doing. Obviously, we are in a position now with no crowds – or very little crowds – and most unions will be in the same boat.

“They’ll be desperate not only for the tournament to go ahead, but also to make sure that there are crowds in the future so that we can meet our financial obligations to the game.

“We have taken quite a pounding over the previous few months and it hasn’t helped anyone with having no crowds.”

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