World Rugby continues to investigate a variety of return-to-rugby plans, including the delivery of a viable 2020 international competition calendar subject to the relevant government and health authority advice.
In tandem with an extensive financial assessment, World Rugby, in full partnership with Six Nations, Sanzaar, unions (in consultation with their leagues) and International Rugby Players, announced their planning in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This includes likely short-term reshaping of the international rugby calendar, optimising competition opportunities for unions and domestic leagues. As a prudent precaution, further scenario planning factors in a competition environment where cross-hemisphere travel might not be possible and, in the worst-case scenario, where no international rugby is possible this year.
While initially a response to an unprecedented crisis, the modelling work achieved potentially provides direction for long-term reform of the rugby calendar.
Central to the contingency planning is player welfare and all potential scenarios have involved International Rugby Players’ input and recognise the need for adequate player preparation and rest.
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: ‘Global sport is facing a crisis never seen before and at this most challenging time we are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players through the enormous challenge presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a US$100-million relief fund, while we are making excellent progress towards calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.
‘I have chaired many productive meetings in recent weeks with my union, region, competition and player colleagues and we are moving rapidly towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game.
‘This is a process with solidarity, unity and leadership at heart – one that sets a potential blueprint for successful collaboration in the future and I would like to thank everyone for their openness, cooperation and global view.’