A push for an integrated global rugby season from as early as 2016 appeared to die in recent months but there are powerful voices claiming it must not be given up on.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said the growth of rugby internationally depended on the integration of the northern and southern hemisphere seasons and the flow of players between markets.
“Rugby, if it wants to go forward as a sport, has to have a global season,” Cheika said this week.
“Right now, they’re just trying to squeeze all the juice out of a small orange, whereas if you had a bigger orange, you’ll get a lot more juice out of it.
“Just like you see the A-League benefiting from having players come here after their careers are over, it would let the game flourish across the globe because you can increase the number of major players if you have a global season.”
The plans, championed by the International Rugby Players’ Association and supported by the southern hemisphere unions last year, were effectively killed off for a while by the member unions of the Six Nations tournament.
A global season would have moved the southern hemisphere Test window from June to July, leaving Super Rugby to run unbroken from February to July.
In the northern hemisphere, the European domestic season would have started and finished later (October to June) but the Six Nations schedule and November Tests would have stayed put, as well as the Rugby Championship and World Cup windows.
A global season would not only do away with the momentum-sapping June Test window, but also have an impact on player movements.
“I’m not talking about the big teams, the smaller nations will be able to have access to players to grow their game,” Cheika said.
“When players are getting to 32 or 33 and their game is ending, they might have the opportunity to go and play and get paid well in a young country. The global season would let them market to players directly. I think the linking-up of teams internationally makes all sorts of things possible.”
His comments tie in nicely to speculation the Waratahs are exploring the idea of formally linking with Japanese clubs.
At least one of the parties interested in a private equity takeover of the minor premiers has this sort of scenario front and centre of their plans to maximise the Waratahs brand – and their own investment.
Brumby Jack is the story that keeps on giving, with Cheika cheekily telling the Breakdown this week the Brumbies mascot could call him for tickets if he struggles to get a guernsey at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
Cheika also told us he would not mind if the polyester horse galloped sideline during the match, and jokingly speculated he may take the reins and lead him down from the stands in the manner of a gracious host.
That would be a sight, although Brumby Jack might be forgiven for shying away considering the impression the NSW coach left the last time he was in Canberra.
TOOMUA’S LOVE NEST
Will Brumbies five-eighth Matt Toomua drop into his new Sydney love nest during his stay in the big smoke this weekend?
Toomua and partner Ellyse Perry are the new owners of a house in Chatswood, which was quietly but strategically purchased after the in-demand playmaker inked a long-term deal with the Brumbies two months ago.
One year and 18 Tests into his tenure, Ewen McKenzie continues to fine-tune his Wallabies set-up.
While the 32 players selected in his squad for the Rugby Championship dominated headlines this week, McKenzie has been making changes behind the scenes as well.
Three key figures have moved on. Analyst Andrew Sullivan, physiotherapist Andrew Ryan and logistics manager Matt Sheppard have all left the Wallabies since the side’s clean-sweep of France last month.
They join former team manager Bob Egerton, who resigned earlier this year.
Cathal Garvey, who was employed as a business analyst at the ARU for two years, has taken over from Sullivan in the important role of rugby analyst. Replacements for the others are yet to be determined.
TOMBLESON MOVES ON
In other movements, Waratahs strength and conditioning coach and former England sevens representative Tom Tombleson is leaving NSW to take up a role with the England Test side.
Tombleson, a strength specialist working alongside the Waratahs’ director of physical performance Haydn Masters, has been instrumental in the minor premiers’ superior fitness this season and will be a huge asset to Stuart Lancaster’s side as it prepares for next year’s World Cup.
WALLAROOS HEAD TO WORLD CUP
Best of luck to the Wallaroos, who leave for France on Sunday for the women’s World Cup.
Australia are in Pool C alongside South Africa, Wales and the hosts. The tournament starts on August 1.
Fox Sports, which has broadcast the past two women’s World Cups, will televise all of the Wallaroos’ pool matches, plus the semi-finals and final, live.
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