MELBOURNE, June 22 (Reuters) - The coronavirus has played havoc with rugby union’s international schedule, but Australia coach Dave Rennie remains hopeful the sport’s major powers can agree on a new global calendar for 2021 and pave the way for a nations’ championship.
World Rugby is looking to move the July test window to October in 2021, which would allow for back-to-back months of test rugby between northern and southern hemisphere nations and potentially revive a global championship proposal that was voted down in 2019.
Currently, northern hemisphere nations travel south in July, with southern hemisphere sides making the return trip in November.
“It’s a genuine chance, I reckon, and I think it’s a great option,” New Zealander Rennie told reporters in a video call on Monday.
“You move the July tests back to October and you have two big international blocks, that would be ideal. There would be a lot of support for it in the northern hemisphere but there’s lots of moving parts up there, unfortunately.”
Southern hemisphere nations backed World Rugby’s so-called “Nations Championship” in 2019 but failed to secure consensus from northern hemisphere counterparts.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing the suspension of internationals in 2020, World Rugby is renewing the push to streamline the sport’s convoluted calendar.
Former Glasgow Warriors coach Rennie noted reports that Ireland was “a bit lukewarm” about the global calendar, but he said northern hemisphere clubs would welcome any proposal that reduced the loss of their players to international duty.
“I think you’d find the majority of the Pro14 sides would be supportive of it,” he said of the annual competition involving sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
“I think from a player welfare point of view, it’s important. You finish off your club season and all players then get a bit of a spell rather than half your squad heading away with the international side and so on.” (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Alex Richardson)