The global season is on the agenda this week at both the World Rugby and Sanzaar meetings.
Early indications emanating from Dublin indicate that there has been agreement that the June internationals will indeed be moved back a month into July.
As I said yesterday, this is of significant benefit for Super Rugby as it means the tournament can run continuously without a mid -season break.
I confess I’m surprised and have to wonder what compensation the Northern Hemisphere will try and extract, as the shift will inevitably disrupt the end of season and then pre-season for the clubs in the Pro 12, Top 14 and Premiership leagues.
The other rumour is that the 6 Nations will be dispensing with one of the rest weeks, resulting in a truncated tournament of 6 weeks. Whilst this might help the clubs loss of international players, they are unlike to be chuffed with the delay in starting the summer internationals.
It will have supporters and detractors in equal measure I imagine – we wait to see what the official line and agreements are from the World Rugby conference – and when (and if) they are ratified.
The Sanzaar meeting is being held today and tomorrow in London and the big issue (bless you) will be Super Rugby – a tournament that, apart from Andy Marinos, is universally regarded as being highly flawed in its current format.
The ‘popular’ suggestion seems to be that it should be culled from 18 to 15 or even 14 teams – although this is far from being a consensus view.
Whist South Africa appear to be prepared to lose one and maybe two franchises, the ARU are adamant that Australia should keep all 5 of their teams in Super Rugby and appear to be intransient in this attitude.
New Zealand meanwhile have arguably the five strongest franchises – as endorsed by their inclusion on the British and Irish Lions fixture list in June.
Other suggestions are that there should be two conferences – a SA based and a Trans-Tasman – coming together only at the knock-out stage in order to reduce the travel burden.
No one seems to be talking about the Asian ‘elephant in the room’ – as far as I am aware no mention has ever been made of the Sunwolves franchise – which, apart from financial considerations, hardly justifies inclusion, as compared to some of the suggested victims of a cull.
The Super Rugby format for 2018 will almost certainly feature a different structure – agreement on a global calendar looks to be more distant.