French demand 'more' matches
NEWS: The French Rugby Federation (FFR) said Friday they are sticking to their plan to play six year-end international matches.
Their stubborn stance comes amid a growing row with the Top14 clubs over a revised calendar.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, World Rugby this week proposed an international calendar that in the Northern Hemisphere would enable the Six Nations to be completed and Test matches to be played between late October and mid-December.
The FFR said it was “ready to initiate discussions” with the French league authorities, but only on how to make French internationals available and not regarding the number of matches ‘Les Bleus’ are to play.
“Six matches is well-suited to the possibilities offered by the widened international window decided by World Rugby,” the FFR said.
The new calendar proposed by World Rugby — whose vice-president Bernard Laporte is also the head of the FFR — is designed to help fill the coffers of national rugby federations hit hard by COVID-19.
The recommendations will be tabled at a virtual meeting of the World Rugby Council on July 30.
On Wednesday the French National Rugby League (LNR), which represents the Top 14 and Pro D2, said it hoped to hold talks on how many matches France would play in the autumn.
The clubs believe they have already made “a very significant effort” by proposing that “France can play five international matches … instead of the three provided for in the calendar and in the FFR-LNR agreement”.
World Rugby’s move to stage Test matches in December has also been slammed by English Premiership chiefs, who derided it as a “unilateral decision”.
The proposed calendar would mean this year’s delayed southern hemisphere Rugby Championship will take place from November 7 to December 12.
That would leave leading English clubs without many of their overseas stars for one week of domestic fixtures and the first weekend of the European Champions Cup.
Next season’s Premiership is scheduled to start on November 20.
Due to the new timings, the traditional clashes between Northern Hemisphere and southern hemisphere powerhouses will not take place this year.