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    World Rugby Calendar/Crisis Meetings

    Article from the Lahndan Times.

    Owen Slot: It’s the end of the world as we know it

    With no international fixtures scheduled after 2019 and the conflict between nations growing more fraught, rugby faces a crucial few weeks that may decide the future of the game

    World Rugby will find itself at one of the most significant crossroads in the 20-year history of the professional game next week. If it cannot resolve the vast and complicated problems of its future structure, it risks sliding into civil war.

    After the 2019 World Cup, there is not a single international fixture scheduled anywhere in the world and there is a reason for this. No one will sign up to a fixture schedule because the professional rugby world cannot agree on how the world schedule should look.

    The players are rightly joining this debate with an increasingly loud and frustrated voice, shouting: stop all this nonsense, we are playing too much

    The game sings with one voice on only one point: we need to better monetise our product. Yet different factions have different priorities:

    ● The southern-hemisphere teams want June tours stopped. They want European nations to shift summer tours to July.

    ● European nations do not want to tour in July, but some are questioning the value of summer tours altogether.

    ● In a document circulated to European clubs and unions, the southern hemisphere has also set out a vision that involves the European season shifting to start in October and running deeper into late June.

    ● The southern hemisphere wants to be paid a slice of European income when they tour in November.

    ● English, French and Celtic clubs want total separation of the fixture list so club games no longer overlap with international games, so that they no longer lose their best players during the Six Nations and autumn internationals.

    ● The European clubs want to expand their competition. A world final between European and Super Rugby champions is an intended annual event now likely to kick off next year. But a more ambitious proposal, now openly discussed, is a four-yearly World Club Championship.

    Many of these priorities already conflict, and that is before we consider that, in trying to make professional rugby a better entertainment that more people will pay more for, the game is causing untold damage to its entertainers.

    Yet the performers — the players — are rightly joining this debate with an increasingly loud and frustrated voice, shouting: stop all this nonsense, we are playing too much.

    The players’ No 1 priority in this, as voiced officially by the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA), is for an annual 12-week break. This summer, though, the England players, will get nine, although it will be more like three or four before they start pre-season.

    That the players are being busted and broken is beyond debate. Last week, Christian Day, the chairman of the English arm of the IRPA threatened that if this continues the players would go on strike.

    While everyone protects their own interests, Gareth Davies, the chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, said: “The only easy solution is someone designing a 60-week calendar.” In the absence of that, and given what we know about rugby’s inability to find administrative compromise, you don’t have to go far to find senior stakeholders in the game predicting “war”.

    “It’s the one burning issue that everyone is talking about,” Damian Hopley, the chief executive of the English arm of IRPA, said. “If there is going to be a dust-down, then let’s have the scrap. The constant dithering and inertia has to end.”

    Indeed, in a public statement, the players’ body has asked the leading stakeholders “to come together and open
    their minds to the potential benefits of change, and what that may look like”. The statement includes the following from Richie McCaw, the World Cup-winning All Blacks captain: “It could be a game-changer for professional rugby. It would be fantastic to address this longstanding season structure debate once and for all.”

    The problem here is this statement was released three years ago. Nothing has changed since. Andrew Hore, chief executive of the Waratahs who held the same title at the Ospreys, has seen the same issue from different sides of the world. He says: “It’s like an alcoholic. World Rugby has got to fess up that there is a problem. World Rugby is saying: ‘It’s OK.’ Well no, it’s not OK.”

    The closer we stumble to 2019, with no one reaching agreement and no agreed international fixture list, the more threatening any game of brinkmanship.

    Steve Tew, chief executive of the New Zealand rugby union, broke from cover a few weeks back when he said: “We don’t believe the current system is sustainable. We are not going to default to the current one. We are going to force the issue.” In so doing, he threatened that the All Blacks — the biggest brand in the game — would start to organise their own post-2019 fixtures.

    At present, the game relies on a schedule masterminded by World Rugby, where all the Tier 1 nations play each other regularly. This is an attempt to spread competition and the big commercial fixtures. The minute the All Blacks go off on their own, the whole system implodes.

    And that is not all that Tew meant by “the issue”. The southern-hemisphere nations see the English and French clubs as the enemy; the leakage of their world-class players to contracts in the north with which they cannot compete has become a steady flow. The system does not stack up economically for them.

    At present their income from June tours south is dwarfed by what the European nations make from November tours north (bigger crowds, cheaper tickets, more valuable TV rights). Tew believes that his All Blacks deserve a slice of the fortune they create in the north. The RFU, for one, is not shifting on that. The response from New Zealand has come in the form of threats not to come north in November at all. And so the fight begins.

    Yet while there is a feeling of battle lines being drawn, there is also a long-shot opportunity. The world rugby calendar is an anachronism the professional game inherited from the amateur days.

    The November tours remain a series of one-off games without consequence. Why tour in June and November at all? Because we always have done.

    So why not start again. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t wipe the whole slate clean,” Hore says. “There is enough here where, if we get it right, we could produce something really special, unique.”

    “If we can crack it,” Rob Nichol, chief executive of the players’ body, said, “how good would that be? It could be magic.”

    There are two ways of looking at this. One: take the present calendar and fight over individual weeks. Here is a microcosm of that prospect: the northern hemisphere wants the World Cup shifted two or three weeks back from a mid-September start to the end of August so that it does not overlap so damagingly with the start of the domestic season. But that would bleed into the Rugby Championship and the southern-hemisphere nations would not want that. Immediately you have conflict.

    Two: scrap the present calendar completely, work out what will sell and build from there.

    The idea of the World Club Championship, for instance: finish both European and Super Rugby competitions after the quarter-finals, take the four semi-finalists from each hemisphere and throw them into one big tournament of eight. Once every four years? It would clearly have merit; under the status quo, it would be impossible.

    What the game needs, then, is strong and enlightened leadership. No one is accusing World Rugby of that right now.

    “It is proving a complex process,” Brett Gosper, the World Rugby chief executive, says. He says that certain proposals have been made but were rejected.

    #2
    Lastyear a small working group from north and south and the IRPA, and ledby John Jeffrey (former Scotland flanker, now a World Rugby councilmember) was formed but got nowhere. This was then passed on to agroup of the chief executives of the Tier 1 nations. They last met atthe end of February and still no white smoke.


    Thewhole issue will come to a head at next week’s World Rugby councilmeeting in Dublin. World Rugby has been waiting for new leadership,in the form of the incoming chairman, Bill Beaumont, who will bevoted in (against no other candidate) on Wednesday. Before that, onMonday, the Tier 1 chief executives meet, and their views will beinformed by a prior meeting between Sanzar and Six Nations heads.


    Then,on Thursday, IRPA meets World Rugby. After all that, many of themwill move on to Lyons for next weekend’s European finals.


    Donot expect an immediate solution. However, if there is no significantground made by the end of Lyons, then the stand-off will edge towardsa fight.


    Thereare huge issues to be resolved to keep the game balanced andthriving. The southern hemisphere seems to want more concessions thanthe north. The northern unions have more of a problem in representingclubs as well as country.


    Ideally,the European clubs would have a seat at the table but they have notbeen invited. The Premiership clubs have given the RFU two proposedmodels, one radical, one more conservative. They can only hope thatthe RFU fights their corner.


    Somenations are in the eye of the storm. France is a massive problem. TheTop 14 cannot be squeezed into any reasonable integrated globalcalendar. And yet the French clubs have money and power and are notshy of taking on the establishment. The danger of club rugbyaccelerating past the international game has already become realityin France; the Top 14 finals overlap with the France summer tour toArgentina and you can be sure that the players with the overlap willnot be travelling.


    SouthAfrica are a challenge too. They are tied into Sanzar competitionsthat are on the wrong time zones and therefore do not serve their TVaudience. Plus the players’ travel schedule is preposterous, whichis just one reason for the never-ending player exodus to Europe andJapan.


    Anotheris the economics; the three biggest rugby economies are England,France and South Africa and while there are still wealthy investorscircling, the conversation about South Africa taking the financiallyastute option and aligning themselves with Europe is not completelydead. If you started with that clean slate, South Africa would neverbe where they are now.


    Wherethey and everyone else ends up after 2019 is a complex challenge thatmust be addressed with urgency. The game structure the professionalsinherited from the amateurs no longer works. This can be anopportunity or a battleground; standing still is the one option thatno longer works.


    OwenSlot’s four year plan
    2017 Lionstour
    2018 WorldClub Championship
    2019 Summertour and World Cup
    2020 Notour at all. Rest.


    Globalcalendar


    Southernhemisphere
    Aug-startOct:The Rugby Championship
    Nov:Break
    Dec:Winter internationals
    Jan:Break
    EndFeb to end June:Super Rugby
    July:Summer stuff, see above


    Europe
    SeptDomestic season
    OctDomestic season
    NovDomestic
    Dec:Autumn (winter) internationals
    Jan:Winter break
    FebDomestic
    Mar:Six Nations
    Apr:Six Nations / Domestic
    MayDomestic
    JuneDomestic
    July:Summer stuff (see above)
    Aug:Off


    Domesticleagues restricted to ten-team leagues.
    This would saveEngland/the Aviva Premiership and the Guinness PRO12 fourweekends.
    France, get with the programme, please.


    Southernhemisphere has to agree to December internationals instead ofNovember.
    This allows northern hemisphere continuity of the winterinternational season.


    InLions years: In Europe, four weekends overlap of domestic andinternational rugby, domestic season finishes at the end of May.Lions tour June and July. Three Tests in July after Super Rugby hasfinished. Lions players not allowed to rejoin the following season’sdomestic season until October.


    TheDecember internationals should be five weekends, not three. And thereshould be a share of revenue, between the two hemispheres, to accountfor southern hemisphere losing some of its tours.


    Thisformat gives almost complete separation of club and internationalfixtures in Europe.

    Comment


      #3
      Would love to have seen the 2006 - 2008 Munster team in the world club championship

      Comment


        #4
        There is no way the T14 will be compromised. As for the SH nations having a slice of the Autumn internationals, they already do very well out of the Lions tours.

        The SH are in serious trouble because of the money sloshing into the English and French leagues and the RFU's ludicrous payment to the PRL clubs for access to players that their schools and junior clubs produced should demand some serious questioning from World Rugby as it further skews the playing field and disadvantages all the other unions.


        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

        Comment


          #5
          So, after the European civil war of 2013-2014 we are now facing into a world war at union level with several agitators holding guns to the unions, again. This is on top of the stillborn nature of the 'resolution' of the civil war.

          This is gong to be fun.
          The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by The Word Is Born View Post
            So, after the European civil war of 2013-2014 we are now facing into a world war at union level with several agitators holding guns to the unions, again. This is on top of the stillborn nature of the 'resolution' of the civil war.

            This is gong to be fun.
            This is a continuation of the battle for the ERC. Unfortunately the RFU and the SRU have left the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by the plastic paddy View Post
              There is no way the T14 will be compromised. As for the SH nations having a slice of the Autumn internationals, they already do very well out of the Lions tours.

              The SH are in serious trouble because of the money sloshing into the English and French leagues and the RFU's ludicrous payment to the PRL clubs for access to players that their schools and junior clubs produced should demand some serious questioning from World Rugby as it further skews the playing field and disadvantages all the other unions.


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
              Of course they have to pay the clubs to use their employees. What would u propose as an alternative?

              Seems some of the pointless international friendlies are under pressure, they need cutting out
              My computer thinks I'm gay
              What's the difference anyway
              When all the people do all day
              Is stare into a phone

              Comment


                #8
                World Rugby Calendar/Crisis Meetings

                Originally posted by sewa View Post
                Of course they have to pay the clubs to use their employees. What would u propose as an alternative?

                Seems some of the pointless international friendlies are under pressure, they need cutting out
                The money the RFU are paying them is ludicrous, especially when those PRL clubs do not provide the same level of compensation to the RFU clubs and schools that produced the players on the first place. The amounts going into the English and French leagues are miles beyond the spending power of the SH unions. World Rugby needs to stop the RFU adding accelerant to the arms race.
                Last edited by the plastic paddy; 9th-May-2016, 09:05.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by the plastic paddy View Post
                  The money the RFU are paying them is ludicrous, especially when those PRL clubs do not provide the same level of compensation to the RFU clubs and schools that produced the players on the first place. The amounts going into the English and French leagues are miles beyond the spending power of the SH unions. World Rugby needs to stop the RFU adding accelerant to the arms race.
                  Sorry to have to tell you this but the game went Pro
                  My computer thinks I'm gay
                  What's the difference anyway
                  When all the people do all day
                  Is stare into a phone

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by sewa View Post

                    Seems some of the pointless international friendlies are under pressure, they need cutting out
                    That's just the start. PRL and LNR would do away with th Six Nations if they could. The prosperity of the game rests with the unions in the long term. Not a handful of wealthy egomaniacs. Anyway, we've been here before, let's hope the IRFU can make a strategic alliance with the Saffers.
                    Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2019.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Here's an international competition set in stone till 2022?
                      http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/34919.php#.VzBUyBUrJX8
                      I am the million man.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by rathbaner View Post
                        That's just the start. PRL and LNR would do away with th Six Nations if they could. The prosperity of the game rests with the unions in the long term. Not a handful of wealthy egomaniacs. Anyway, we've been here before, let's hope the IRFU can make a strategic alliance with the Saffers.
                        Au contraire. The international unions have shoehorned in way more international and sub international games over past twenty years. That's why players now make record cap totals (see link) and we go to daft places like Tbilisi in green jerseys. Lets blame it all on the clubs though eh

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_caps_leaders
                        My computer thinks I'm gay
                        What's the difference anyway
                        When all the people do all day
                        Is stare into a phone

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by sewa View Post
                          Au contraire. The international unions have shoehorned in way more international and sub international games over past twenty years. That's why players now make record cap totals (see link) and we go to daft places like Tbilisi in green jerseys. Lets blame it all on the clubs though eh

                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_caps_leaders
                          And the clubs have not increased the number of games they play or the size of their leagues since the amateur days then?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by sewa View Post
                            Au contraire. The international unions have shoehorned in way more international and sub international games over past twenty years. That's why players now make record cap totals (see link) and we go to daft places like Tbilisi in green jerseys. Lets blame it all on the clubs though eh

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_caps_leaders
                            I'd agree with you there. I think the Welsh had 5 AI's over the past few years to horse in the cash. I'd prefer to see Ireland play two tests in November and one game before a summer tour against a minnow in Dublin in June.
                            I am the million man.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jeepers View Post
                              And the clubs have not increased the number of games they play or the size of their leagues since the amateur days then?
                              Since start 2015 we have played 19 international games despite being kicked out of RWC early. We have another 7 games left this year ffs.

                              A comparison with amateur days is impossible as a lot of the clubs didn't even exist. The blame is being laid fair and square at the clubs solely, meanwhile there is an ever increasing set of international games.

                              You don't think a bit of balance is required in the discussion? Lets just blame the clubs and ignore the unions greed
                              My computer thinks I'm gay
                              What's the difference anyway
                              When all the people do all day
                              Is stare into a phone

                              Comment

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