Rugby stars back plans for calendar changes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 5:56am

All Black great Richie McCaw and Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton urged rugby leaders to move the June internationals and adopt an integrated global season to improve player welfare and safeguard the future of the game.

The pair threw their weight behind a proposal by the International Rugby Players' Association (Irpa) to make the changes for the 2016 season that would help all test-playing nations to pick their best players.

The Irpa wants to move the June test window back to the end of July, allowing the southern hemisphere-based players to finish the Super Rugby club season, while those in Europe would start their domestic campaigns later, possibly October.

McCaw said it was a good opportunity to make a significant and beneficial change. "If the game's leaders give this idea, or a variation of it, serious consideration it could be a game-changer for professional rugby," the 116 times capped flanker said. "It would be fantastic to address this long-standing season structure debate once and for all, the players and the game would be so much better for it."

Sexton, who started all three tests in the British and Irish Lions' recent test series win over Australia, agreed. "We see this initiative as beneficial for the global game," the flyhalf said. "From a player perspective, we urge our leaders to get in a room together, take a positive attitude and see what can be done."

Calendar complaints have been a long-standing issue in rugby, coupled with the growing demands on players through increased physicality and number of matches.

Currently, European countries tour southern hemisphere sides in June with return matches held in November and December. The timing means teams always tour at the end of their ever-growing seasons.

With hosting teams retaining all profits from the matches, ticket sales suffer if fans sense a mismatch or know a travelling side are lacking their star names.


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