New World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont and his new deputy Agustin Pichot will be confirmed next month in their positions in the places of Bernard Lapasset and Oregan Hoskins respectively and it is hoped the new leadership will finally begin a strong push towards a global season for the game.
New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew has reignited the discussion on the Global Season when he confirmed the All Blacks were serious about making sure it happened by 2020 and could well withdraw from the World Rugby tours programme if an agreement is not reached.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux told SuperSport.com that South Africa was very much in favour of something different to the current tours agreement that ends in 2019.
“Everyone in the game knows that we have an issue around the season structure and the impact on player welfare and World Rugby is already exploring new options,” said Roux.
“There’s no silver bullet for this problem and it is something that has been exercising minds for a number of years. But there is widespread agreement that there is no appeal in continuing the current model beyond the current tours agreement (2019).
“Any new format must strengthen the integrity of Test rugby and address the key considerations for southern hemisphere rugby of financial sustainability and player welfare.
“It’ll take a change in mindsets to achieve that and will mean a shake-up in what has become the norm but we have to explore the options.”
Part of that change in mindset needs to come in that the Six Nations countries will need to change the dates of the tournament, otherwise any hope of a global season will be futile. Southern Hemisphere countries have already indicated they are willing to look at dates around the Rugby Championship, but a move needs to have the backing of both hemispheres.
“We are working with World Rugby on some options,” NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said at a media briefing in Auckland.
“There’s plenty of work being done. Are we closer to an agreement? Probably not but at least the discussions are very current.”
Like South Africa, New Zealand aren’t willing to see the current tours programme simply roll over in 2020.
“We don’t believe the current system is sustainable,” he said. “Our players and the northern hemisphere players won’t sustain that and I think it’s fair to say the French and English clubs don’t think it is sustainable either.
“We need a different season structure than the one we have now and we are not going to default to the current one if we can’t find one. We’re going to force that issue,” he said.
Either way, for this to happen it will take some horse-trading and give and take from both sides to see it become a reality.