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PRO12 managing director calls for Six Nations shift

Published 23/08/2016

Martin Anayi is keen for the RBS 6 Nations to be pushed back
Martin Anayi is keen for the RBS 6 Nations to be pushed back

Guinness PRO12 bosses are determined to realign rugby's global season before progressing plans to create a franchise in the USA.

The PRO12's managing director Martin Anayi has insisted the RBS 6 Nations should be shifted back at least three weeks to solve the global fixture pile-up.

Anayi expects global governing body World Rugby to force an answer to the game's biggest headache before the turn of the year.

The PRO12 chief believes shifting the Six Nations would allow Test stars to feature in more club matches, boosting interest to the point of pushing for the likes of an American franchise.

"We've had really early discussions, with USA Rugby, broadcasters, sponsors, consulting internally with our teams and shareholders," said Anayi, reconfirming the PRO12's preliminary plans to branch out into North America.

"Everyone's saying the same things, that if it's good for the tournament across a whole range of areas, player welfare, if it's good commercially, for the fans, and does it form part of their strategic plan too, then we should explore how far we can take it.

"They believe in the same things we do, which is the only way for a tier two nation to become a tier one nation is through professional club rugby.

"Because there is no scope to expand the international calendar, for the USA to play more games."

Anayi believes the American market could be more suited to joining northern hemisphere club competition, rather than the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby contest.

However, the PRO12 boss believes it is vital to solve the global season conundrum first, in the hope of freeing up Test players for further club appearances.

"You've got to talk about why it is that we're losing a huge proportion of international players not week-in and week-out, but in big chunks of the season," said Anayi.

"Intersperse that with European club rugby as well and you get quite a disjointed season.

"We think there's a simple solution, which is to push the Six Nations back and finish the club season in before the Six Nations.

"We'll be really really sure about our future and how successful club rugby can be globally if we can just get to the point where we get our international players playing in a consistent fashion."

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