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Six Nations retains early year calendar slot

September 14, 2016

The Six Nations competition will retain its current place in the calendar as an event played in February and March.

Discussions are continuing over a new international calendar, but the BBC has reported that it has learned there will be no change to when the top European nations face each other.

The new calendar is being designed to improve player welfare and reduce the number of occasions where club and international fixture clash, causing many teams to lose their best players for weeks on end.

It also envisages co-ordinating the start and end times of different national leagues, with northern hemisphere domestic competitions like the Premiership and Pro12 starting and finishing later, with the season wrapping up in June, with the southern hemisphere leagues ending around the same time. This could, in turn, make possible a world club championship.

This will also be made possible by the scrapping of end-of-season tours in Rugby World Cup years.

However, for fans booking corporate hospitality for the RBS Six Nations matches at Twickenham early next year - when England face France, Italy and Scotland, nothing will have changed, as the new calendar would not take effect until 2020. 

Commenting on the possible changes, England coach Eddie Jones said: "I don't think there are ever going to be massive changes in the schedule.

"Things are locked in by tradition, and rightful tradition, so I think there are some cosmetic changes that can be made that can make the yearly schedule better for the players and better for the northern and southern hemisphere countries."

Ironically, a ban on end-of-season tours after a World Cup might have meant England not travelling to Australia as they did this year, when Eddie Jones led the tourists to an unprecedented 3-0 whitewash of his countrymen. 

However, the changes could mean lesser countries like the USA and Japan getting more regular fixtures against tier one nations, which would help them to raise their standards and thus make the Rugby World Cup more competitive.

By Sam Coates

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