An exciting programme of international matches is set to take place later this year after the World Rugby Council approved a temporary adjustment to Regulation 9 to accommodate the release of international players for revised 2020 windows.
The adjustment to the regulation has been approved as a temporary measure to mitigate the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on global rugby activities and provides a welcome boost for players, teams, fans, and broadcast and commercial partners.
Approval follows extensive and productive dialogue between the sport’s major stakeholders, balancing the interests of the international game, the professional club game and player welfare to determine a schedule that will optimise the immediate financial recovery and funding of the sport at all levels.
The windows approved by the World Rugby Council for player release are:
- Temporary global player release window for 2020: 24 October – first weekend of December
- Temporary Rugby Championship window for 2020: 7 November – second weekend of December
The temporary global window will accommodate the completion of the 2020 men’s and women’s Six Nations Championships on 24 and 31 October, a rest weekend on 7 November and four consecutive rounds of international matches.
With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to impact transcontinental travel and entry requirements, on an exceptional basis The Rugby Championship 2020 will take place over a reduced six-week period between 7 November and the second week in December with SANZAAR having asked New Zealand to host.
Special measures will need to be implemented to deal with any government-required isolation period prior to the start of the competition.
The current Regulation 9 windows will return to normal after the conclusion of the temporary calendar.
All parties, including unions, club competitions and players, remain committed to continued dialogue regarding the long-term harmonisation of the international calendar for the betterment of all.
The rescheduling of the domestic, European and international calendars will accommodate the ability for the professional clubs to have access to their star southern hemisphere international players for the completion of the postponed and rescheduled 2019/20 seasons at a time in which they would have ordinarily been on international duty in August and September.
The process also reflects the ambition to minimise impact on the EPCR and English Premiership finals matches.
World Rugby is also liaising with emerging unions to explore where it can assist with a programme of fixtures where COVID-19 restrictions permit.