Call for Six Nations to be played in one country
SPOTLIGHT: Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has suggested that the Six Nations should be played in one country.
According to the Irish Times Baxter believes that instead of cancelling the tournament, it would be ideal to play this season’s Six Nations in England – given the strict crowd restrictions elsewhere.
Under current Welsh Government restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic and its omicron variant, Wales would have to play scheduled home games against Scotland, France and Italy behind closed doors.
Scotland would be in a similar position for games at Murrayfield if outdoor events remained restricted to 500 people, while it has been reported that Wales could consider moving their Principality Stadium fixtures against Scotland, France and Italy to England.
Crowd restrictions of 5 000 currently apply in Ireland and France, while Italy has a Covid pass system in place after tightening restrictions last month.
Reports revealed that Six Nations organisers are prepared to wait until next week before making a final decision.
However, no formal contingency plans are yet in place with the tournament due to kick off in Dublin and Edinburgh on February 5th.
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“We can’t all sit here and pretend the world is in an ideal place at the moment,” Baxter told the Irish Times.
“With the Covid problems we’ve had the unions are financially stretched already so anything that can raise some revenue has to be preferable to just binning things for a season.
“If the next best scenario is playing in one country, you could have sell-out crowds and keep that income stream going.
“It’s the same for any business, you’ve got to explore those options.
“The national bodies’ responsibilities go way beyond professional sport. They go right down to the grassroots and the repercussions [of cancellation] will probably be greater than in the professional game.”
However, Baxter acknowledged that changes in the traditional Six Nations’ tournament could have implications.
“The whole beauty of the Six Nations is the change of environment and, potentially, the weather conditions,” he said.
“The games that spring to mind most are the ones when, say, England have been going really well in the tournament and then been derailed at the last by having to go to Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Those are the great challenges and that’s what makes the Six Nations such a great competition to win.
“You’ve seen French teams who look like they could beat any team in the world in Paris. The next week it doesn’t go quite so well in Cardiff.
“That’s the beauty of the tournament and, from a rugby perspective, I’m sure that’s what we all want to see happen.”
Source: Irish Times & The Guardian