"My job is to reach a consensus": freshly re-elected this weekend at the head of World Rugby, the Englishman Bill Beaumont will have to deal with many issues, notably the thorny question of the harmonization of the calendar between the hemispheres.
It is an old sea snake that is re-emerging: the coronavirus crisis has once again pushed the alignment of competitions in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere to the fore.
The World Rugby proposal plans to spread the season between October and July. It would start with the "Fall" Tours, then come the Domestic Championships from December to July. With a parenthesis for international competitions (Rugby Championship and Six Nations Tournament) in April-May.
Bill Beaumont, who beat his former vice-president, the Argentinian Agustin Pichot, has also revived this idea at his first press conference on Sunday, ensuring however that the discussions "are still in an embryonic state for the moment" .
"We have to keep in mind that we have to take all the stakeholders with us," said the former England team captain.
- The League of Nations is back -
This breakdown brings out "the League of Nations", a project for a new international competition that was aborted last year.
This League of Nations, endowed with seven billion euros over twelve years, could bring together the best teams from each hemisphere and would have several levels, allowing a promotion-relegation system.
"You could have competitions with all the countries playing in these windows and below, you would have subsidiary competitions for the emerging nations so that they can play at the same time in another competition," he summed up.
During the campaign, Beaumont had already mentioned the possibility of combining the summer and fall tours. "There are windows in July or November but if we put them together, we could have two full months and have a tournament there," he said.
An idea, taken from his opponent Agustin Pichot, which would have the advantage of avoiding overlapping the competitions and therefore the famous "duplicates" which have penalized certain teams such as Toulouse, defending champion of France and only 7th in the Top 14 in freezing in mid-March, after having played twelve of its seventeen league games without its internationals, occupied by the World Cup and the Tournament.
Only downside: this project raises the question of the place left for the European Cups, generally contested between October and May. Bernard Laporte, new vice-president of World Rugby, had also launched a block in the pond, at the beginning of April, by evoking a World club.
For this new competition, with 20 teams divided into four pools of five and a final phase, all spread over six weeks, the boss of French rugby "can imagine seeing qualified the semi-finalists of the Top 14, those of the English championship, first six of Super Rugby, the first four of the Celtic League, the champion of Japan and that of the United States, for example ".
"We have to create this competition and very quickly. It could be a breath of fresh air for the whole of world rugby," said Laporte.
The Beaumont-Laporte plan is still at the project stage. In addition to the division of the season, it will have to integrate other data; as the maximum number of matches that players could play in a schedule that is always so busy.
© 2020 AFP