Global season a “long shot”, New Zealand rugby union chief says
A push to move June internationals back and create an integrated global rugby season by 2016 remains a “long shot”, New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief Steve Tew has warned.
The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) has campaigned for the June Test window to be pushed back to the end of July to allow southern hemisphere-based players to finish the Super Rugby tournament and have Europe-based players start their domestic campaigns later.
The proposal, supported by players in both hemispheres, would increase player welfare and help safeguard the future of the game according to the IRPA, but would not require re-scheduling of the major Six Nations and Rugby Championship tournaments.
Ahead of a four-day meeting between national union chiefs in Dublin, Tew cast doubt on the northern and southern hemisphere powers reaching an accord in time for 2016.
“As I’ve said all along, it’s a long shot,” Tew told New Zealand media. “At best it will be a work in progress. At worst it might get knocked on the head. I’ve been managing people’s expectations from the start.”
Calendar complaints have been a long-standing issue in rugby, coupled with the growing demands on players through increased physicality and number of matches.
Currently, European national teams tour southern hemisphere countries in June with return matches held in November and December. The timing means teams always tour at the end of their ever-growing seasons.
With hosting teams retaining all profits from the matches, ticket sales suffer if fans sense a mismatch or know a travelling side are lacking their star names.
Tew also said the NZRU and USA Rugby would hold a joint media conference on Tuesday with the Chicago Sports Commission, with reports world champions New Zealand will play the United States at the start of the All Blacks’ season-ending northern hemisphere tour.
The match is slated for November 2 at Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“I can’t pre-empt that but we’re working towards confirming things, which is great,” Tew said. “It won’t come as a surprise to most because we’ve been reasonably open about it for some time.”
The All Blacks are slated to tour Europe for tests against England, Scotland and Wales after the US tour.
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Published: May 11, 2014 04:00 AM