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World Rugby proposes interim international calendar

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images for VODAFONE)

A temporary international rugby union Test match window between October 24 and December 5 has been recommended by World Rugby’s executive committee.

The move from the governing body is aimed at helping the sport recover following the suspension of rugby this year due to Covid-19. It represents an extension of the standard three-week window in November in a normal year.

The timing clears the way for the Six Nations Championship to restart at the end of October and the Rugby Championship to be played in November and December.

There is one full round of Six Nations matches to be played, although both Ireland and Italy have two games left to play.

In addressing the more geographically-challenging Rugby Championship for southern hemisphere teams, World Rugby said: “With Covid-19 restrictions continuing to impact international travel and borders across southern hemisphere unions, on an exceptional basis The Rugby Championship 2020 will be hosted in full in a single country over a reduced six-week period between  November 7 and December 12. Special measures will be implemented to deal with any government-required quarantine period prior to the start of the competition.”

Sanzaar, the umbrella body of the South African, New Zealand, Australian and Argentinian rugby unions, has already identified New Zealand as the preferred destination for the 2020 Rugby Championship.

Andy Marinos, chief executive of Sanzaar, last week suggested that the national team tournament could run from October to December, if travel and health restrictions can support an eight-week competition window.

The recommendation for the temporary international Test window will be tabled at a virtual meeting of the World Rugby Council on July 30.

If it is approved, the full schedule of matches will then be revealed by the respective union and international competition operators.