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Final decision on Test windows in 2020 to be confirmed by World Rugby on 30 June
A World Rugby meeting yesterday failed to find consensus on the long-term global calendar.

WORLD RUGBY SAYS a final decision on when Test matches will be played in 2020 will be confirmed by a vote on 30 June.

courtney-lawes-and-jonathan-sexton James Crombie / INPHO Ireland have had four games postponed in 2020. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The game’s unions, clubs, competitions, and players body met on a ‘Professional Game Forum’ video call yesterday to discuss the possibility of all parties aligning for a genuine global calendar in the future.

However, World Rugby has reported that after an exchange of “frank views,” the meeting concluded with “the absence of full alignment.”

World Rugby, the Six Nations, SANZAAR, International Rugby Players, the British and Irish Lions, EPCR, Pro14, LNR, PRL, and Japan’s Top League were all present at the online meeting, as were union representatives from Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Japan, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

It’s believed that the French clubs – represented by LNR – were among the most vocal of opponents to a proposal to make rugby a summer sport in Europe, which would mean competing against some of the biggest events in others sports. English clubs are understood to have expressed their own concerns with the mooted shift. 

However, World Rugby says there is a commitment to “further detailed commercial and player welfare modelling” with the clubs as the governing body pushes for a potential new Test-match period of October/November from 2021, replacing the July window.

World Rugby insists that all parties have agreed that reform of the international calendar is required post-Covid 19 in order to “revitalise the global game and deliver much-needed alignment between international and club rugby with fewer overlaps and enhanced player rest periods.”

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However, it remains to be seen what compromise is reached on the issue of the long-term global calendar.

More pressingly, World Rugby has confirmed that “further information sharing and discussion will be undertaken with all parties regarding the viability of proposed adjustments to the 2020 international release weekends stipulated in Regulation 9 that will enable postponed and other international matches to be played in an adjusted window from October, while enabling the completion of existing club competitions.”

Ireland’s 2020 Six Nations matches against Italy in Dublin and France in Paris were among the fixtures to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, while Andy Farrell’s team also had their two-Test tour of Australia in July postponed.

Ireland are scheduled to face Australia, Japan, and South Africa in November, although it’s unclear if travel restrictions will allow those teams to visit Dublin.

Whatever is to happen, World Rugby say a final decision on the 2020 international windows will be confirmed by a World Rugby Council vote on 30 June following consideration and recommendation by the World Rugby Executive Committee.

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