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Women's Six Nations set for 'later window in the spring' and may move there permanently says CEO Morel

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The Ireland team stand for the national anthems prior to the Women's 2020 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Italy at Energia Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Ireland team stand for the national anthems prior to the Women's 2020 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Italy at Energia Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Ireland team stand for the national anthems prior to the Women's 2020 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Italy at Energia Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Held online, the Guinness Six Nations launch was always going to be different this year but the absence of one half of the participating senior teams was telling.

As the Men's tournament steams ahead as planned, the Women's internationals from England, France, Wales, Scotland, Italy and Ireland are awaiting news of when they will be allowed to compete for the crown.

A decision on rescheduling the Women's and U-20s Six Nations was due by the end of January, but that deadline will be extended into next week as chief executive Ben Morel works with stakeholders to find the right window.

Speaking at the launch, Morel said the tournament will go ahead this Spring and if the new window proves successful they may choose to keep it there.

"We are working very hard. Obviously, it was a very hard decision to have to take this but it was mainly driven by the amateur status of many of our athletes and it was definitely the reasonable route to take," he said.

"We're definitely looking at a later window in the spring, we are having to factor multiple elements in.

"It's a Rugby World Cup year, some of our unions are still in the process of qualifying for that event and others are eager to prepare appropriately for the event so we are in the process of finalising that.

"Further details probably early next week."

Many of those involved in the women's game believe moving the Six Nations out of the window dominated by the men's tournament would be a beneficial move.

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Morel is currently working on a television rights agreement for the Women's game, while he is also investigating title sponsorship.

And he says switching to a new window is a live option.

"First of all, in the UK finding a broadcaster to be a partner of the SIx Nations - we are extremely confident we can do so," he said.

"I know one of the possibilities is definitely in order for the women's tournament to be in the limelight we are strongly thinking about moving it to a specific window and that is one of the working assumptions that we have for the future.

"We are seeing what window would be appropriate, looking at the women's international calendar and growing club game as well.

"I'm a strong believer that the specific window would enhance and give appropriate visibility.

"At the same time, not by design, but we are going to be in a position to test that this year because of the rescheduling of the tournament and I'm going to be looking at that carefully to see what learning we can get from that.

"As far as a sponsor is concerned, we don't yet have a sponsor in place. We've had several really positive discussions but it's a matter of finding the right parter that will embrace the opportunity in the long term and align with our strategy.

"It's not a case of finding a partner for the sake of finding a partner, it's finding the right one that will help elevate the Championship for many years to come.

"There's a bit more work to be done there, but we are very confident in the fantastic tournament that the Women's Six Nations represents and the fantastic growth opportunity it is."


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