World Rugby's plans to play any postponed July Internationals in October is under threat from European clubs who guarding their competitions.
European rugby’s governing body has told World Rugby it intends to stage the Champions Cup final in October and says it is “unacceptable” to shoehorn extra autumn Tests into the calendar on weekends reserved for top-level club rugby when the sport resumes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Guardian reports that European rugby's governing body has told World Rugby they intend to stage the Champions Cup final in October and say it is "unacceptable" to squeeze extra autumn tests into the calendar on weekends reserved for top-level club rugby.
EPCR chairman Simon Halliday claims the clubs have been overlooked in discussions and has demanded talks about next season's playing calendar.
“We absolutely do not accept a schedule of international rugby in October,” said Simon Halliday, EPCR’s chairman. “That directly clashes with us and we are informing World Rugby we fully intend to use our October window if we need it. We could play our semis and finals on those two weekends or, alternatively, just use one of them for the final and try and find two other dates in August and September for the quarters and semis.”
EPCR has strongly denied reports from Ireland that the 2019‑20 season might be curtailed early. “When you have club tournaments locked into multi-year contracts with partners and broadcasters, which is the lifeblood of the game, you can’t just cancel everything. If we don’t do what we are contracted to do, there are serious ramifications,” said Halliday.
“We can’t be bailed out by World Rugby, we don’t have that luxury. But we’re all connected, we’re all part of the same game. The value of our tournament, the Premiership, the Pro14 and the Top 14, collectively, is close to a billion pounds. Before people start saying what is valuable, it constitutes a very large – and increasing – percentage of the world’s rugby revenue. Significant investment has been made in European rugby.”
“If our finals do end up being played in October we would then look at the following season and operate a different format to allow for the exceptional difficulties encountered this season,” said Halliday.
This could help clubs like Toulouse who sit just outside the European qualification places domestically with the Top 14. A number of TOP14 stars returned to club duty in France later in the season after the Rugby World Cup in Japan with Toulouse having more representitives at the Rugby World Cup than any other TOP 14 club.
“We’re in times of real crisis here and we are not oblivious to worst-case scenarios. None of us entirely knows what will happen but everyone’s position in the game has to be respected. You’ve got to include the clubs and provinces of Europe at the heart of the conversation.” Halliday added.