Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton has joined the growing opposition to calls by England’s Rugby Football Union to reduce the Six Nations from seven weeks to six.
After RFU’s chief executive ian Ritchie had called for a six-week tournament last week, Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies vehemently opposed the motion, saying it would put players’ health at risk.
Davies’ views were shared by England international pair George Ford and Joe Marler and now Sexton has added to the growing chorus of those in disagreement, according to Sky Sports.
“From a player’s point of view, the way it is now is very good,” said Sexton at an Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) launch.
“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, 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.
Sexton has himself sat out numerous matches this season though injury and agrees it would make players even more susceptible to injury.
“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.”
The 31-year-old then went as far to claim that a reduced tournanment would favour a team like England, who he believes have more depth in their ranks.
“You might have players missing a few games with a small niggle whereas you might not miss any with the way it is now,” Sexton added.
“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.”