Rugby

Scotland coach Townsend backs call for fewer international windows

AFP-Jiji

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has welcomed moves to reduce the number of international windows in rugby union's calendar.

Europe's Six Nations traditionally takes place in February and March, with the southern hemisphere then staging tests from July and the northern hemisphere in November.

Some critics argued the presence of so many international slots, however lucrative, makes it difficult for the club game to thrive.

But with the sport currently suspended because of the coronavirus, there has been talk of combining two windows.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has spoken up in support of tests between the hemispheres taking place in consecutive months, with October and November one option.

There have also been calls for matches involving teams from both sides of the Equator to form part of a competition rather than be the stand-alone fixtures they are now.

Talks between the Six Nations and SANZAAR, which runs the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship, over drawing up a new global program have taken place during the pandemic, with Townsend telling BBC Radio Five Live on Saturday: "I really hope we do get an aligned calendar.

"My preference is to move to the summer to align with the southern hemisphere and have a really competitive element in the October and November window, as we do with the Six Nations.

"It seems like there is a will from a lot of people to make that happen. It would almost be like a World Cup, but you are flying to the southern hemisphere countries and then coming back to host southern hemisphere teams."

The former Scotland fly-half added: "Having a competitive element — whether it is a cup or league — would add something tangible.

"Just now with the three Test windows — Six Nations, July and November — it has worked OK.

"But from an international perspective to move July into October would be better for continuity and in terms of seeing the players develop, but also it works for the clubs, in that they don't have to have three test windows in the year.

"Two test windows means the clubs get a really good long run with their players."

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