World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot says the players would ultimately determine the length and structure of a potential global season. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Pichot is currently running for the position of World Rugby chairman. After serving under Bill Beaumont for the past four years, the Argentinian feels that change is overdue and a move toward a global season will address a number of the game’s ongoing issues.
How would a global season work, though? Earlier this week, veteran coach Gary Gold – who has worked extensively in both hemispheres over the past two decades – told this website that time should be set aside for rest and conditioning. From there, Gold said, the calendar year should be divided into regional and international seasons to ensure all parties are satisfied.
Pichot believes that the players should have the biggest say in determining when the games are staged.
‘Nothing should happen without the players’ input. I would say that in terms of a global season, the players must drive that decision-making process,’ Pichot told SARugbymag.co.za.
‘They know better than anyone about the challenges of the game today and where there are real problems. You need to take into account what is good for Test rugby, of course, and what is good for the clubs, because the clubs pay a lot of the players’ salaries.
‘We need to get them together, players from both hemispheres, and thrash out a way forward,’ Pichot continued. ‘There will be different opinions in the sense that Johnny Sexton will see things from a northern-hemisphere point of view while Siya Kolisi and Jerónimo de la Fuente will see things from a southern-hemisphere perspective.
‘The important thing is that everybody appreciates that change is non-negotiable, and that we need to work together to find a solution.’
Like Gold, Pichot is calling for a specific rest period where no rugby is played.
‘Player welfare is a big issue, and perhaps we need to set 12 weeks aside every year when there is no rugby on the go.
‘I’ve mentioned the big-name players and the Test teams, but we’ve also got to see what sort of schedule suits the smaller nations and leagues. The amateur game feeds into the professional game, and we have to be mindful of how those systems work.’
Pichot also spoke about helping the tier-two nations with regard to management and development. Ultimately he hopes to improve the level of competition across the board.
‘Perhaps we need to focus on creating pathways for the Pacific Islands teams,’ he said. ‘Currently they’re getting together only a few times in a four-year cycle, and then people wonder why they struggle to perform consistently.
‘Why not stage camps in Europe, where a number of them are based with their clubs? This is what I mean about changing our thinking and trying to lift the standards.’