World Rugby chief fears 2020 international season 'could be over'

Bill Beaumont (Getty Images)
Bill Beaumont (Getty Images)

World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont believes it is a "distinct possibility" that the international rugby calendar could be scrapped this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The game's governing body on Thursday announced details of a $100 million relief package aimed at supporting the global game.

The organisation is also exploring a way to return to playing but the current global uncertainty led Beaumont to concede it may not be possible to hold any more fixtures this year.

"That is a distinct possibility," Beaumont told The Times. "The pressures on the unions are getting greater and greater."

Beaumont is standing for re-election as chairperson of World Rugby but next month's elections will see him go up against vice-chairperson Agustin Pichot.

The former Grand Slam-winning England captain's bid for a second four-year term took a hit when former team-mate Clive Woodward backed the ex-Bristol and Argentina skipper.

Woodward's assertion that "rugby would benefit from being viewed through the eyes of leader who is 45, not 68" rankled with Beaumont, who said: "What difference does the age make?"

"I played my rugby always as an amateur. Does that mean that I don't understand the professional game?"

When asked whether he needed to move faster to make changes, he said his preferred method was incremental change.

"I am evolution, not revolution," he said. "I am bidding to show a lead to colleagues, to take colleagues with me. I intend to be a leader. And I think I have been in the past."

Beaumont's running partner Bernard Laporte last week floated the idea of a yearly Club World Cup, an idea that could sound the death knell for the Champions Cup.

However, Beaumont added: "It was a misunderstanding. What I can see is a world club championship, but not an annual basis. That is the way we both look upon it."

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