Six Nations set to move in bid to align the world calendar

New global rugby season featuring re-positioned Six Nations on the cards after world’s leading unions join forces to form an ‘aligned calendar’

  • The Six Nations championship could move back a month to March-April 
  • Rugby Championship played at same time as part of a synchronised calendar 
  • Six Nations and Sanzaar have committed to further talks in the coming weeks
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A new global season featuring a re-positioned Six Nations appears to be taking shape after the world’s leading unions effectively admitted on Friday that the sport has been mismanaged.

In a remarkable and unprecedented statement issued jointly by the Six Nations and SANZAAR — organisers of the Rugby Championship — it was revealed that talks have been progressing about ‘an aligned global calendar’. 

There has been intense recent speculation that the Six Nations will be moved to a March-April slot, as will the southern hemisphere’s annual Test tournament, while July tours by the northern teams are set to be shifted to October in each non-World Cup year.

The Six Nations and Sanzaar have edged closer to a joint deal on global calendar shift

The acute need for a coherent structure for the professional game has become particularly apparent during the coronavirus shut-down. It has been beyond the international and club authorities to reach a suitable agreement in the past and Friday’s statement recognised these failings.

It outlined how the unions have ‘sought to eliminate self-interest’ in the quest to finally achieve the long-discussed global season vision, ‘in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years’. Such an admission will raise hopes that a vital overhaul is belatedly in the pipeline.

The countries involved in the talks outlined a set of priority principles. Reduced overlap between Tests and club fixtures, along with better aligned player release windows and ‘improved narrative’ of international and domestic competitions. That suggests that the Nations League concept — shelved last year amid opposition to any prospect of Six Nations relegation — is firmly back on the agenda.

World’s leading unions effectively admitted on Friday that the sport has been mismanaged

There are firm commitments to improve player welfare, the game’s commercial appeal and ‘pathways’ for emerging nations. Also, strikingly, there is a stated aim to ‘restore public faith in the core values of rugby and show strong collective leadership in the best interests of the game’ — another tacit admission of previous failings.

Meanwhile, on a day of momentous announcements, the Pro 14 League confirmed that private equity firm CVC had confirmed the purchase of a 28 per cent stake, for a fee of around £120million. As part of the deal, which is understood to have retained its pre-coronavirus valuation, the Italian federation will become a member of league organisers Celtic Rugby DAC and receive a share of the investment. The Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh unions will retain their 72 per cent majority stake.

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