Saturday 29 April 2017

'That probably suits England' - Johnny Sexton not a fan of proposed Six Nations changes

18 March 2017; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is tackled by Owen Farrell of England during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
18 March 2017; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is tackled by Owen Farrell of England during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Johnny Sexton wants the Six Nations to continue with the status quo of five games in seven weeks and says calls to condense the schedule and take out one rest week would lead to more injuries and suits bigger nations with stronger playing pools like Engand.

The Ireland out-half gave a positive update on his own shoulder problem at an event to launch IRUPA’s rebrand as 'Rugby Players Ireland' this morning and wants players’ voices to be heard on the issue.

The plans are being mooted as part of changes to the global season, with the English RFU and Premiership Rugby calling for the tournament window to be reduced. Currently, teams play two games, take a break, play another game and have another fallow weekend before finishing with a pair of Test matches.

The change would take one of those down weekends out of the schedule, putting additional pressure on the playing squads.

The reduced schedule has been met with opposition from players in England, while Joe Schmidt and Ireland winger Andrew Trimble have also voiced their concerns at the proposal.

And Sexton is the latest to lend his weight to the argument against the change.

“From a player’s point of view, the way it is now is very good,” he said.

“Taking one week out is probably a compromise. They are talking about playing it over five or six weeks which would be tough going.

"Now, the World Cup is the same but during the group stage of a World Cup you might have one or two games depending on the group where you can rotate one or two guys.

“In the last World Cup, we changed up the team totally for Romania so that was essentially a week off., although you could argue that there are no weeks off at a World Cup.

"It is different at a Six Nations, isn’t it?

“Every game is full on, pretty intense, so think the way it is now is pretty ideal.

“Trying to cram it down would compromise … you would see a lot more players missing out on games, basically, because a lot of those weeks are about getting ready for the next game.

"You want to see the best players play in those games and I think that would be reduced.

“You might have players missing a few games with a small niggle whereas you mightn’t miss any with the way it is now. The other argument would be that the best squad would win.

“That probably suits England. They seem to have three or four or five players of the same standard through different positions but it would test our depth as well and we have maybe a little more depth than we would be given credit for, maybe.”

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