Telfer fears tours will die out

Scotland's director of rugby Jim Telfer has warned that rugby tours could be consigned to history if a new global season becomes reality.

The heads of Australian, New Zealand and South African rugby agreed yesterday, at the annual SANZAR conference in Perth, to commission a new independent study to lay foundations for marrying the northern and southern hemisphere seasons.

A statement from the three chief executives, John O’Neill, David Rutherford and Rian Oberholzer, said: "The organisation will look into each union’s unique situation, particularly domestic, national and club competitions and come back to SANZAR with recommendations on how to move forward.

"It’s important that we get a totally independent organisation to do this crucial work. Once this is done then it will serve as a united starting point for discussions with the northern hemisphere unions about a global rugby season."

Telfer admitted the plans - which include moving the Six Nations Championship into the summer months as part of a new global international season - had been discussed within Murrayfield.

He told The Scotsman: "One of the problems we foresee are that tours would go out of the window.

"That might be considered a good thing as far as player burn-out is concerned, but when Scotland were in New Zealand in the summer the tour was considered a success by both sides because we visited places that hadn’t been visited for some time, the home unions benefited and our younger players in particular benefited.

"These new plans would instead mean internationals all being played at the same time, where we would fly down there just for one or two Tests and back. We’ve discussed it and are still of an opinion that there is great value to Scottish rugby in short tours."

Telfer did admit, however, that a knock-on effect of the proposed changes, the prospect of playing more top-level rugby in the summer months, could be an attractive by-product.

Meanwhile, the Springboks wing Chester Williams and Australian prop Richard Harry look set to wave goodbye to international rugby when the Barbarians meet South Africa in the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Capped 37 times by Australia, Harry retired from Wallabies rugby in August after helping them win the World Cup and Tri Nations title, and returns to play one last match before quitting senior rugby altogether.

The 33-year-old said: "It’s like a dream come true to have been invited over here to play for the Barbarians."

"But, after the game on Sunday, it’s back to Sydney and to my job with a private property development company."

The retirement of Williams is perhaps a less enthusiastic one as it is believed new Springboks coach Harry Viljoen has told the wing he is no longer a part of his plans. Williams, a hero of the Springboks’ World Cup triumph in 1995, may be considering a coaching role within South African rugby.

Hawick scrum-half Alan Gray has been handed a one-week ban after being red-carded during the Trinidad Sevens, ruling him out of Hawick’s match with Boroughmuir on Saturday.

Playing for Border Reivers, the holders, Gray received his marching orders for "provocative conduct" in the 33-0 defeat to eventual winners Rugby Ecosse.

Stirling University claimed the Scottish Universities Championship in style yesterday when they defeated Aberdeen University 100-0.