Six Nations chief Ben Morel has called for patience as rugby’s powerbrokers work towards a global calendar solution that has “never been closer”.
English boss Bill Sweeney revealed recently that the long-mooted schedule to pull together the world’s rugby competitions is once again close to coming to fruition.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive thinks a 10-team Gallagher Premiership from the 2024-25 season would help the English domestic league return to a stable footing after the administration woes of Wasps and Worcester.
The Six Nations also runs the Autumn Nations Series northern hemisphere Tests, with chief executive Morel another administrator holding a renewed belief in the much-vaunted global calendar.
Unity across the same calendar could help end club-versus-country rows, allowing Premiership clubs to field all their top stars for all their league encounters, but years of haggling are yet produce a full agreement.
Rugby’s major boardroom players all view this as the way forward and Morel has now echoed Sweeney in signalling confidence in a deal, but a final agreement could still be months away.
“We’re still realistically several months away from knowing what everything that needs to be solved,” said Morel. “But in terms of what the elite competition looks like, we’re pretty much close on that one, but we want to solve other things for the rest of the game.
“That’s key. So I’m not the only one who can put a timeline. And actually sometimes timelines can be a catalyst, sometimes they can be counterproductive. So, we’ve never been closer, so let’s give us the time, we’re not looking to launch that next year either.
“We’ve got a bit of time, so let’s do it right. There’s a lot more than just commercial negotiation, especially in terms of what it would do for the whole rugby ecosystem.
“Those negotiations are obviously important, but it’s also about bringing the game forward.”
Six Nations staff now share a London office with administrators from Premiership Rugby and the United Rugby Championship (URC). Such entente cordiale flies in the face of the historic internecine strife that plagued rugby for so long.
Goodwill alone will not solve the game’s problems however, least of all a bleak financial outlook, no more so than in England.
When asked if the Six Nations can in any way step into the breach to help the current tribulations among Premiership clubs, Morel replied: “This is really a particular English matter, it’s not really up to me to have any view.
“I’m a tournament organiser, an important tournament organiser, and a tournament that has millions of eyeballs on it.
“So my view is, yes, there might be some specific current structural issues that are needing to be addressed and they are being.
“We, as Six Nations, collectively with all our unions need to show how great the game is, how aspirational it can be, touch the younger generation and new casual fans, and in parallel those discussions with factor what’s happened, cross-correct.
“I’m very close to Bill Sweeney (RFU) and Simon Massie-Taylor (Premiership Rugby), they’re close friends and I know they are working hard on it.
“And I’ve got full confidence they will find the right solution out of what is obviously something they would have all wanted to avoid.”