Six Nations: Condensed tournament would 'meddle with players' health'

Wales' Sam Warburton put his thumb up to reassure the crowd as he is taken off on a stretcher during the 2016 Six Nations
Wales' Sam Warburton put his thumb up to reassure the crowd as he is taken off on a stretcher during the 2016 Six Nations

Condensing the Six Nations Championship by a week would "meddle with players' health", says Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies.

Plans by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) would remove one of the two weeks when games are not played to create space for a new global international season.

If agreed, a six-week tournament would start after the 2019 World Cup.

"To squeeze it into a shorter period is potentially damaging," Davies told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"Yes they are professional and very well paid but the nature of rugby being such a physical game, I think we are meddling with players' health."

Last week Scottish Rugby Union chief Mark Dodson told BBC Sport that reducing the tournament from seven weeks to six would be a threat to player safety.

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Gareth Davies talks all things Welsh rugby

The plans for a condensed tournament will be discussed at April's Six Nations review meeting where Ian Ritchie, chief executive of England's RFU, will be lobbying for its implementation.

However, speaking to the BBC earlier this week England fly-half George Ford voiced concerns over a shorter Six Nations, saying it was "important" to have rest weekends.

"If we are looking at the intensity at which these guys play at international level these days, and the way they train in between, it's not just the playing of course," Davies added.

"It's the fact you're condensing the training into a far shorter period and I just can't see any argument for shortening it."

A 'threat' to rugby's honesty and integrity?

Meanwhile, Davies welcomed the news that an independent review will take place into Wales' controversial 20-18 defeat by France in the Six Nations - a game which lasted for 100 minutes.

France brought Rabah Slimani back on for fellow prop forward Uini Atonio in the 81st minute against Wales.

Wayne Barnes allowed Slimani to return to the field after France's team doctor said Atonio needed a head injury assessment.

Slimani's reappearance, which is to be investigated further, coincided with a series of scrums on the Wales line and France finally won in the 100th minute.

Rabah Slimani
Rabah Slimani (centre) came off in the 55th minute before returning in the 81st against Wales

"There were some people who thought this could possibly be brushed under the carpet. To be fair to the executives at the Six Nations and the people who have led on the inquiry, they have come to the conclusion that it should go to a totally independent inquiry to really get to the bottom of what has happened," Davies added.

"Obviously the result of that can't be changed, we understand that but it is important because once we start manipulating the rules as it were, that is a dangerous road to go down.

"Rugby does pride itself on its level of integrity and honesty and I think this was obviously something that has threatened that."

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