English chief says international calendar is ‘unsustainable’

Club representatives at the launch of the Aviva Premiership season at Twickenham. Picture: Steve Paston/PA Wire

Club representatives at the launch of the Aviva Premiership season at Twickenham. Picture: Steve Paston/PA Wire

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English Premiership Rugby bosses have called for a swift resolution to the “unsustainable” Test season.

The Aviva Premiership’s chief executive Mark McCafferty has challenged rugby’s top administrators to thrash out a new long-term deal to solve conflict in the global calendar.

The existing international fixture agreements expire after the 2019 World Cup in Japan, with New Zealand hinting they would refuse a renewal under the current status quo.

Guinness Pro12 chiefs have suggested delaying the start of the RBS Six Nations by six weeks to allow club seasons to be completed in advance – but McCafferty insisted Premiership Rugby do not consider that a solution.

Rejecting the pain of moving the Six Nations, McCafferty said: “We don’t like that particular idea, but we do have some of our own ideas and concepts.

“But we think that the best thing to do is to get all the main stakeholders in one building at one time and to work through it, because we’ve got some fairly strong views ourselves about separating the club and the international calendar more.

“That’s the next part of our development, to try to get a greater distinction there between the international and the club game. That’s one concept, but we’ve also got to listen to others.

“I think the international season structure is unsustainable as it is at the moment.

“It’s coming to a head for sure. We’re talking about what happens after the World Cup in Japan in 2019, so we’ve got to focus a few years out.

“There are parts of the global game where there is opportunity that needs to be developed, and opportunity needs to be given to certain parts of the game that are potentially growing.

“And as ever there are some threats to the game which need to be addressed. So all of those have got to go into the mix, and I think that’s coming to a conclusion. But I don’t think you can really make any progress by just lobbing out individual ideas there, without getting in a room and trying to work through it.

“It’s very complicated, it’s very inter-related, and nobody really can act unilaterally, we’ve got to do it collaboratively.”

Premiership Rugby officially launched its new season at Twickenham yesterday, revealing a new deal to run until 2020 with long-term sponsor Land Rover.

While the Pro12 has already confirmed it will explore the potential to add a franchise in the United States, Premiership Rugby will not.

McCafferty insisted the Premiership will not expand its teams beyond England, but also reconfirmed plans to stage another league fixture in the US in the coming campaign.

“We are an English league, that’s where our strength is. We’ve certainly no plans to change,” he said.

“We’ll look to grow our profile in the States for sure, and we’ve made a couple of big breakthroughs on that last season. It’s about gaining profile for the Premiership competition in the States rather than basing any teams there.

“We’re just putting together some last-minute details on our fixture in the US for the season. It will be a few weeks before we’re able to confirm everything, but it will happen.”

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