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02nd Jul 2023

Six Nations set for major shake up as countries fight over proposed change

Rory Fleming

Six Nations

France are the major drivers of the change, with Scotland, Wales and Italy providing stern resistance.

Rugby stakeholders are keen to see the Six Nations shortened under plans for a new global rugby calendar.

The proposed change would see the annual tournament reduced by one week from 2026 onwards.

As part of the proposal, the second fallow week of the tournament, which occurs before the final ‘Super Saturday’ round, is set to be scrapped by tournament organisers.

This change would see the Six Nations reduced from seven to six weeks, with the removed fallow week instead placed after the tournament, meaning that players would not be allowed represent their clubs for a further week.

It is believed that the French union are the main drivers behind the schedule change, with their domestic league organisation, Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), lobbying for compensation over the proposed extension of the November Test window.

Six Nations
Smaller nations fear that the shortening of the tournament could favour the likes of France and England. (Credit: Getty Images)

The additional week of Autumn Test rugby has been brought about by the news that World Rugby are set to introduce a new two-tiered tournament to replace the traditional summer tours and autumn tests.

The move to reduce the period in which the Six Nations is played has not been welcomed by all participating nations, with Scotland, Italy and Wales providing particularly stern resistance to the idea.

They allege that the change would prove an advantage to nations such as England and France who enjoy larger selection pools of players and have the ability to rotate.

Another group sceptical of the proposed calendar changes is the union of International Rugby Players (IRP), which is headed by former All Black Conrad Smith.

Smith responded to the proposed changes by stating that any new format must include mandatory rest periods for players;

“That needs to be addressed as it is leaving some players with no rest period across a 12-month calendar, which in a contact sport is crazy”.

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