New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew has admitted the global game faces a “big problem” as stakeholders seek to agree terms on an international calendar following Japan’s 2019 World Cup.
Altering international and domestic competition schedules to create a global calendar has long been on the agenda of rugby union’s global governing body World Rugby, which faces the challenge of attempting to marry the interests of national unions and privately-held clubs.
Bill Beaumont, chairman of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), English rugby union’s governing body, was last week formally elected as the new leader of World Rugby and hinted that Europe’s Six Nations tournament could be moved back a month to April as part of the reform efforts.
However, the Six Nations board is determined to retain the tournament’s February-March window despite a two-month gap before June internationals start with southern hemisphere opponents. Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere unions want the June international window moved back until at least July so as not to disturb their Super Rugby club competition.
Tew (pictured), who admitted little progress had been made during talks held last week, told New Zealand’s Sunday Star Times newspaper: “The reality is no-one has agreed a calendar from 2020 onwards and we're all working out what we're going to do in the future without any agreed competition structure.
“If we don't find a compromise, there's no calendar. If there's no calendar there are no games. If there are no games then we've all got a big problem. We have to find a solution and that's evident to everybody.”
He added: “We're all playing more games than we'd like to play because we've got to produce the content, so we can get the money, so we can keep the talent. The most urgent issue is the calendar, no doubt, but the underlying issue is where does the private equity in the club system sit versus the sanctity of international rugby? We've just got to keep having those conversations.”