English Premiership clubs have reluctantly accepted World Rugby’s plan to hold extra Test matches – including the Rugby Championship – during December.
Premiership Rugby had voiced its frustrations last week at World Rugby’s recommendation to stage the Rugby Championship between 7 November and 12 December and to push the Test window further into December to accommodate the backlog of internationals because of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Because the 2020-21 Premiership season is set to begin on 20 November, English clubs would therefore be without their southern-hemisphere players for one week of Premiership fixtures and the opening weekend of the European Champions Cup.
But in a new twist, Premiership Rugby – who are reliant on the Rugby Football Union to approve their own domestic calendar – have decided against opposing the new proposed calendar, but insist they will block any move to make it a permanent change.
‘Premiership Rugby’s position is that we want to be accommodating this autumn due to Covid but we have also got to protect Premiership Rugby’s commercial and sporting interests in terms of the club game in any future international calendar changes,’ Bath owner and deputy chairman of Premiership Rugby, Bruce Craig told the Telegraph.
‘The November window of four weekends accommodates the existing RFU requirements for all matches but they are unnecessarily imposing an expanded window into December that is seriously to the detriment of the club game.
‘The belief among the clubs in Europe is there is an ulterior motive in extending the blocks to expand the international windows permanently.’
Premiership Rugby’s decision to support World Rugby’s scheduling plan means the revised Rugby Championship has moved closer to getting the all clear to take place from 7 November to 12 December.
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