World Rugby has given Unions meeting in top-level Dublin talks this week a deadline of Friday to finally commit to a fully functional global calendar.
It is believed that the global body is keen for this morning’s summit not to become another talking shop as they are insisting that there be a proposal worth voting upon in November.
The long-standing plans to formalise the arrangements of the annual summer and autumn tours have been in the pipeline for some time. But concerns amongst foundation Unions – like Ireland – about the potential for engendering the lucrative Six Nations have seen proposals stymied before.
Other obstacles included the added complications which have seen South Africa slowly lured north.
There are also plans to include countries beyond the leading 12 nations in a second tier as they seek to expand the global game, especially with the US being confirmed today as future hosts of World Cups in both the male and female codes in 2031 and 2033.
This is the latest rugby ruse to formalise a settled system of international rugby; two years ago, plans for a ‘Nations League’ were slammed by players’ groups headed by Irish captain Johnny Sexton.
The proposals, seen by The Times newspaper in London, alleviate some concerns about travel times and fixture congestion, although the prospect of losing one of the fallow weeks during the Six Nations indicates the manifold difficulties of tying together any such proposals.
Meanwhile, Cian Healy and Jimmy O’Brien are doubts for Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse although Jordan Larmour may come into contention after injury should winger O’Brien miss out.