Six Nations revamp 'up for grabs' amid 'unsustainable' season

Justin Tipuric goes over against Ireland in August, 2015
Justin Tipuric goes over against Ireland in August 2015 - the first of Wales' 18 Tests that season

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes a Six Nations revamp is "up for grabs" when tournament organisers meet this summer.

The Six Nations' annual start could move from February to April with bonus points and promotion and relegation being introduced.

Davies says the current demands on players are "unsustainable", prompting talks over a "global season".

He says the WRU held "discussions" with New Zealand in June over the issue.

Recently installed World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said moving the Six Nations to April "could be a solution" in a global calendar.

Gareth Davies (left) with Wales head coach Warren Gatland and WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips (right)
Gareth Davies (left) with Wales head coach Warren Gatland and WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips (right)

The idea was on the agenda in 2003 amid concerns over fixture overlaps and clashes between clubs and countries.

In 2014 the Rugby Players' Association, representing players in England, urged changes to the playing calendar for the sake of player welfare.

Davies witnessed Wales' 18-Test season ending in a 3-0 whitewash against the All Blacks in June, a year after preparations for the 2015 World Cup started.

"The main reason for the global season is player welfare, to try to cut down the numbers of games players are playing," Davies told BBC Radio Wales.

"Our guys were in New Zealand in June, July. They started training the first week of June the previous year.

More from BBC Wales Sport
Prop Francis signs fresh Exeter deal
Storm disrupts Swans defeat in USA
The Open: Donaldson equals worst score

"The New Zealand guys couldn't get over it. These guys had been going for 13 months playing international rugby - that is not sustainable.

"And it was a World Cup year and exceptional year etc, finishing with the New Zealand tour."

For southern hemisphere teams, hosting rivals from the northern hemisphere also disrupts their Super Rugby domestic tournament calendar.

Davies added: "Basically they want us to move a month or so so they can have a clear run-in.

Bill Beaumont and Sir Bobby Charlton
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, seen here with Sir Bobby Charlton at Wimbledon 2016, is a former Lions team-mate of WRU chairman Gareth Davies

"I think we see it, just moving three or four weeks is not going to help the northern hemisphere with player welfare, for example.

"So it is a bigger question than just the Six Nations. That is being looked at at the moment.

"There's a Six Nations council meeting at the end of this month and this isn't to fuel speculation, it is an annual review of where the Six Nations sits.

"So is it worth considering moving it? Do we look at bonus points, which is something that people have asked for to make it more exciting, scoring tries etc?

"Do we look at 'is it a closed shop for Six Nations?' Do we open the gates to Georgia, Romania or anybody else who is deemed worthy and is capable of being in there?

"So all those are up for grabs really.

Beauden Barrett goes as Wales suffer defeat by New Zealand on 26 June, 2016 - their 18th Test of the season
Beauden Barrett goes as Wales suffer defeat by New Zealand on 26 June 2016 - their 18th Test of the season

"Moving the Six Nations - I don't see it as a problem if it helps other things.

"I don't think we need to move it for the sake of it because it does work where it is now - it gets huge following, huge TV audiences etc.

"But if it were necessary to move it in order that it were a piece of the jigsaw that enabled northern and southern hemispheres to have a coherent global season, then it's worth doing."

Wales' next international fixture is against Australia at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, 5 November.

Throughout the season Warren Gatland's players and those of England, Scotland and Ireland will be vying for places on the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Top Stories