World Rugby confirmed with a statement what hours earlier had been advanced by its vice president: the Six Nations will be finished playing in the last week of October, while recommending that the international window of 2020 be played between October 24 and 5 December. All this will be given only once this year as a result of the coronavirus and must be officially confirmed on July 30 at the next council meeting.
The World Rugby Executive Committee today recommended a temporary international 2020 calendar with the express objective of optimizing the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the improvement of global rugby at all levels.
Seeking to accommodate the interests of international rugby, professional clubs, and the player’s well-being and safety, temporary windows have been identified following exhaustive and productive consultations between World Rugby, international competitions, national unions, professional club competitions, and International Rugby Players.
Recognizing the importance of a balanced and shared commitment for all concerned, an international window from October 24 to December 5 was recommended.
In the Northern Hemisphere, this window will accommodate the postponed men’s and women’s Six Nations matches in late October, a week of rest on November 7, and an international match schedule involving Six Nations and teams invited to Europe between 14 November and November 5.
As the restrictions of COVID-19 continue to impact international travel and border crossings in the Southern Hemisphere, exceptionally, the Rugby Championship 2020 will be played entirely in a single country in a reduced period of six weeks between November 7 and December 12. Special measures will be implemented to deal with government requirements regarding quarantines prior to the start of the competition.
The new programming of the domestic, European and international calendars will be arranged so that professional clubs have access to international players from the Southern Hemisphere to complete their 2019/20 season in a period in which they would have been naturally affected by international rugby in August and September.
The recommendation to temporarily change the Rule 9 windows will be presented at a virtual World Rugby Council meeting on July 30. Subject to approval, the full match schedule will be announced in due course by the respective unions and owners of international competitions. The current Rule 9 will return to normal after December 13.
All those involved remain committed to continuing to discuss long-term reforms to the men’s and women’s calendars that harmonize the international and club spheres for the betterment of all.