Six weeks, five or rather three? The “window” of international matches divides French rugby

World Rugby, the international federation, has proposed extending to six weeks (between October 24 and December 5), instead of the usual three, the period during which national team matches will be played in the Northern Hemisphere.

The time is once again for tackles in the small world of rugby. Not yet fully on the ground – anti-Covid-19 measures oblige. But in the offices of the various bodies that rule this sport, whether at the international or national level.

For weeks, we have been witnessing a clash between the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the National Rugby League (LNR), the body that oversees the French professional clubs. The cause ? The definition of the calendar of international matches for this fall and, as a consequence, the constraints that it could impose on clubs with regard to the provision of players for the national team.

Behind this confrontation, the stake is the same for the different parties, federation or clubs: it is financial. The economy of rugby having been undermined by the shutdown due to the Covid-19 epidemic, it is urgent for everyone to be able to line up matches and generate revenue. But how do you make sure that no one is penalized? That’s the whole problem. And the source of the current confrontation.

Six game weekends for national teams in the fall

On Wednesday, July 22, World Rugby, the international federation, proposed to extend to six weeks, instead of three usually, the period during which the matches of national teams in the northern hemisphere will be played.

These matches would take place between October 24 and December 5, i.e. seven weekends in total (including one rest on November 7 and 8), which would allow the organization of six matches for each national team, including matches in delay of the Six Nations Tournament 2020.

This proposal has yet to be definitively adopted. It is expected to be by World Rugby board on July 30. But, already, in France, the LNR has indicated that it does not intend to go beyond, exceptionally, five meetings of the Blues this fall mobilizing international players.

The opposition of French and English clubs

In a statement released Wednesday evening, she said that, if this extension of the international window is adopted, “ it will be a unilateral and unbalanced decision, taken against the position of the professional leagues ”.

The president of the LNR, Paul Goze, had already written in recent days to the management of World Rugby, evoking, on this occasion, a referral to justice, if ever the latter confirmed his project.

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French clubs are not the only ones to protest. Premiership, the English Professional League, is no more satisfied with the schedule that is emerging. She also indicated, Thursday in a statement, her opposition to “The unilateral decision” of World Rugby to expand the international period next fall.

Premiership Rugby leaders urge World Rugby to “Restart global discussions to unite the Federations and the Professional Leagues and agree on a temporary plan that works for everyone”.

The reminder of the rules of the French Federation

Where the affair is spiced up at the hexagonal level is that Bernard Laporte, who is the president of the FFR, is now also the vice-president of World Rugby. And, whether it’s one of his hats or the other, he’s sticking to all six national team games this fall.

On Friday, in a statement, the FFR hit the nail on the head with a point of order for the NRL. Stressing that “The regulatory framework” between federation and League is “Indisputable”, she recalled the terms: “World Rugby decides on the international window. In fact, the FFR must comply with the enactment of this international rule and this is not a possible negotiating lever at the national level with the Professional League ”.

While insisting that, “Within the framework of the international window, by agreement signed with the NRL, international players must be made available to the national team”, however, the FFR says it is ready to discuss “Arrangements for making internationals available”.

“The conditions will relate strictly to the operational conditions for making French internationals available for the execution of matches, the number of which is six is ​​logically adapted to the possibilities offered by the extension of this international window decided by World Rugby. “

The aftermath of the World Rugby board meeting on July 30 looks tough.

The world


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