‘Six Nations unlikely to move to April’ – Ritchie

Date published: July 26 2016

The Six Nations' February-March time slot is set to continue despite suggestions that the tournament may move to April.

That was the word from Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie who said he doesn't expect a significant change for the scheduling of the northern hemisphere's premier international tournament. 

This follows World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont saying he believes playing the Six Nations later could help to establish a global calendar for the sport.

"Why would you want to change something that works really well?" Ritchie told the BBC.

"We have a great TV deal, we have stadia that are full for every game.

"So I can't see there being [any] significant move in that."

World Rugby is keen on a streamlined global season in order to protect players against injury due to playing too may matches.

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies said last week Six Nations organisers are set to meet in the coming weeks with many issues to be discussed, including the potential moving of the tournament to April.

With no matches scheduled after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, administrators from both the northern and southern hemispheres are set to meet in the coming months to discuss a way of restructuring the calendar.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty believes these negotiations will be crucial for rugby's future.

"As far as we are concerned it is the most important issue on the table," he told the BBC.

"As administrators we have to sit down within the next six to nine months and crack out how it should look in 2019 onwards, and I think that's a big, big debate for the game, and it will determine whether rugby realises its potential.

"We are probably looking at what a season structure might look like for two World Cup cycles after 2019, so thinking ahead to 2027 ultimately."

McCafferty wants clubs to play a big part in the decision making.

"They are big stakeholders in the game, particularly the English clubs and the French clubs," he added.

"The scale of the business from Premiership Rugby's point of view is bigger than most unions around the world."

McCafferty also warned against making too many changes.

"There is lots in rugby that is going very well, and we must be very careful to protect the bits that are strong, and make sure the bits that are less strong can have an environment to thrive, and give the global game a platform to develop."