Rugby looks at a radical plan to solve fixture crisis

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Ireland’s summer tour of Australia could be rescheduled for October as World Rugby, clubs, tournament organisers and unions work together to devise a solution to their fixtures crisis.

And a home and away Six Nations is another option being pondered by the sport’s power-brokers as they look to find a way of generating revenue once rugby resumes after the covid-19 shutdown.

The bodies held a conference call this week to find a way to play postponed games once the restrictions on travel and public gatherings have eased.

An announcement on the July tests is due later this month and, rather than cancel them, unions hope to find a way to play the games later in the year.

Rugby Australia are embroiled in a financial crisis with chief executive Raelene Castle under pressure for her job. Playing Ireland in Brisbane and Sydney would greatly ease their woes, after the three-Test series in 2018 proved hugely successful.

Currently, only Australian citizens, residents and their immediate family members are allowed entry to Australia and the matches are scheduled to be played in 12 and 13 weeks time. With Irish players currently housebound, it is impossible to see them being ready to play.

According to RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, England could be off to Japan in October rather than July and that would appear to set up the prospect of an elongated international window running across the autumn.

“The assumption is that the (November) games will go ahead. We’re in regular contact with (the Southern Hemisphere unions) – talking two or three times a week,” Sweeney told the BBC.

Sweeney stressed that the Southern Hemisphere countries are keen to travel north in November as it stands, but said if that changes an expanded Six Nations could be on the cards.

“The south are having the same discussions, if they weren’t able to come north and we weren’t able to go south they’d want to do something to fill their gap and we’d want to do that too.”