Fri, May 23, 2014 - Page 18 News List

NZ rugby union irked at delays to global overhaul

AFP, WELLINGTON

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) expressed frustration yesterday that northern hemisphere nations have refused to back calls to shift the June international window back a month.

Moving the mid-year Tests to July would stop them interrupting the southern hemisphere nations’ Super XV season and also give players a slightly longer off-season after years of complaints about too many matches.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew raised the issue at an International Rugby Board meeting in Dublin this week, but said there was opposition from Six Nations participants, as well as English and French clubs.

“Some think it’s not beneficial for their preparation, they think it’s best for their national teams to play Tests straight after the domestic competition, rather than have a break and then come back together,” Tew told Radio Sport.

Tew said some contractual obligations involving the various unions ran until 2019, meaning change could not happen before the current Super XV format is scheduled to expand to 18 teams in 2016.

“I think our best chance is the beginning of the next cycle, which will be 2020,” Tew said. “While that might sound like a long way away, if we get it right there might actually be an opportunity to have a much broader look at this and really explore whether there’s a proper global season available.”

All previous attempts to improve coordination of the global calendar have failed due to the demands of various interests in the game. Traditionalists do not want showpiece events moved, while Europe’s powerful clubs oppose further disruption of their season, while the southern and northern hemispheres each want Test windows tailored to their needs.

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