World Rugby vice-chairman Agustín Pichot says the international game is under threat.
After a meeting in San Francisco in March 2017, World Rugby announced an agreement that set out an international schedule from 2020 to 2032. The governing body said the agreement would put player welfare at the heart of the decision-making process, allow for an uninterrupted Super Rugby season with a new July Test window, and aid the development of the club game.
However, in an interview with The Guardian, Pichot revealed that fresh discussions on how to make the Test game more viable will be held in Sydney later this month as there are ‘a lot of problems that we need to address’.
‘If you ask me as a businessman, the business side of it is not working,’ Pichot said. ‘If you ask me as the playing side, it’s not working. Is the international game under threat? I think it is. Look at the balance sheets of some nations and you can see exactly where we stand.
‘By the 2019 World Cup, we need to have a blueprint for the next 10 years. On a scale of one to 10, I think we’re four out of 10 now [in terms of finding a solution] but before we were not even on the chart. We need to push that needle from four to at least six or seven. I’m not going to be an accomplice to rugby’s ruin.’
The aim of the new July Test window was to give players more time to rest, yet Premiership Rugby now plans to extend its league from May into June.
‘It’s all a trade-off and who pays for that? The players,’ said Pichot. ‘I felt that Premier Rugby didn’t honour what we said in the San Francisco meeting. At the end of the day, we wanted that shift [of the Test window to July] to give international players a rest if they were playing too many games. That for us is the most important thing.’
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