Rugby edging closer to new global calendar and Test window shake-up

Jurie Roux (Gallo)
Jurie Roux (Gallo)
  • A new global rugby calendar would seek to align the world's top-tier nations.
  • The Rugby Championship could move to the beginning of the year, while the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour could be pushed back to October or November.
  • There is also the possibility of a unique international series involving the northern hemisphere nations.

World Rugby is edging closer to implementing a revised global calendar that could lead to significant changes in Test rugby.  

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According to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, the new calendar could be signed off as soon as next month. 

The biggest stumbling block to the new calendar, Roux said, was the scheduling of next year's British & Irish Lions tour. 

Currently planned for July in South Africa, that tour would have to move to later in the year under the new global scheduling, which might have to happen anyway given the existing restrictions on travel and crowd attendance as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 

"That's the only issue in getting the global calendar across the line and we wouldn't want to be a hindrance in that. We'd want to assist the rest of the world," Roux said of the Lions tour. 

The other changes are also significant. 

The Rugby Championship could be moved to the beginning of the year and could even take place before Super Rugby starts in February while there is also the possibility of a unique international series involving the northern hemisphere sides during a longer international window over October and November. 

"We have been working really hard on a global calendar. Covid is doing what we as administrators haven't been able to do for about 130 years, and that is getting the world calendar aligned," Roux said. 

"Because there is no script at the moment, it is actually a very easy process to go through.

"All competitions in the world are on hold. All agreements are either in breech at the moment or are being renegotiated and very few of us know what that world will look like post-2020.

"The global calendar, which we have shared with our unions, essentially comes down to a move in the northern hemisphere from winter rugby to summer rugby. They'll either play the club competitions in the north from December to July or from February to September.

"There is a potential move of the Rugby Championship from the end of the year towards the beginning of the year, to be played along with the Six Nations.

"Super Rugby will either start after the Rugby Championship, depending on where it is. If it doesn't move, it will start in February so we are done for the end of the year.

"Inbound series will be thrown away. Basically, you could have England, Italy and Wales coming to us in October and then we all get on a plane and head back north where we will play Ireland, Scotland and France. It will have the form of an international series. After that, the two best teams will possibly play in a final at Twickenham."

It is still not clear when Test ruby will resume in 2020, with the July internationals postponed - South Africa were due to host Scotland and Georgia - while there is also doubt surrounding this year's Rugby Championship. 

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