Six Nations: WRU's Gareth Davies happy with seven-week tournament

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb in action against France
Wales won two of their five games in the 2017 Six Nations and finished fifth

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies is hoping the Six Nations will continue to be a seven-week tournament.

The Rugby Football Union have proposed from 2020 reducing the tournament which would be part of a new global international season.

The 2018 and 2019 Six Nations will be played over seven weeks as in previous years. Davies hopes this continues.

"We think it's very important from a player welfare perspective to retain the seven weeks," Davies said.

"Some would argue the seven weeks is too short, especially at the intensity, speed and power that these guys play today.

"Looking back to last season, Scotland played France two weeks before they played us.

"If that game had been played on successive Saturdays they would have been eight players short.

"That, at the end of the day, does nothing I think for the integrity of the competition and why subject the players to added pressures.

"Also from the fans' point of view, being on the road or coming to Cardiff five weeks on the trot is pretty demanding and perhaps unreasonable on the supporters."

'We've done our bit'

Wales have hosted six of the seven Friday night games since they were introduced in 2009 but had declared their wish not to host any matches in 2018 or 2019.

Davies is also pleased Six Nations organisers had listened to their wishes with Wales' only Friday night fixture in the next two years away to France in February 2019.

"We think we've done our bit over the years and perhaps someone else should carry that burden, if it is a burden," Davies added.

George North in action against Ireland
Wales hosted Ireland in a Friday evening match during the 2017 Six Nations

"France seem reasonably relaxed about Fridays, therefore they take that.

"At the end of the day I think each nation has to be inconvenienced, if that's the right term.

"I'm sure we'd all love to kick off at 3pm on a Saturday but obviously broadcast revenue is significant for all the countries.

"We have to be mindful of the broadcasters, who obviously want all the games live on television and therefore playing at your optimum spot of 3pm on a Saturday isn't possible for all.

"What's been reached I think is a reasonable compromise."

Coaching pull-outs 'a blow'

Davies is disappointed Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson and Scarlets backs coach Stephen Jones will not be part of Wales' coaching team for the summer tour but respected their decisions.

Jones pulled out because of Scarlets' Pro12 commitments while Wilson opted to miss the two-Test tour against Tonga in New Zealand and Samoa in Apia due to increasing regional commitments.

Wales' 2018 Six Nations fixturesWales' 2019 Six Nations fixtures
Wales v Scotland - Saturday, 3 February (14:15 GMT)France v Wales - Friday, 1 February (20:00 GMT)
England v Wales - Saturday, 10 February (16:45 GMT)Italy v Wales - Saturday, 9 February (16:45 GMT)
Ireland v Wales - Saturday, 23 February (14:14 GMT)Wales v England - Saturday, 23 February (16:45 GMT)
Wales v Italy - Sunday, 10 March (15:00 GMT)Scotland v Wales - Saturday , 9 March (14:15 GMT)
Wales v France - Saturday, 17 March (17:00 GMT)Wales v Ireland - Saturday, 16 March (14:45 GMT)

"It's a blow from my perspective, not for the team or its performance in the short term, but a blow to the development programme of future Welsh coaches," Davies said.

"It was great opportunity for Danny and Stephen but we respect their wishes.

"It's been a long season with the Scarlets still hunting a trophy.

"Going out for three or four weeks to the southern hemisphere and coming back straight into the middle of pre-season training is very demanding."

Top Stories