Clubs could ditch the November break after WRU crunch the numbers on 2022/23

Australia score against Wales in the 2022 autumn internationals at Principality Stadium <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Australia score against Wales in the 2022 autumn internationals at Principality Stadium (Image: PA)

THE Welsh Rugby Union are considering scrapping the break for the autumn internationals in the community game.

Leagues have traditionally stopped in November to avoid clashes with Wales Tests – something that won’t happen next season due to the World Cup.

The campaign will get under way at the beginning of September and run through to the start of April, leaving room in that month to play any postponed games and finish the cup competitions.

The WRU has been assessing data from the first full campaign since the coronavirus pandemic and community director Geraint John has pointed to the autumn period, when clubs are just starting to hit their straps after two months.

“On average, we get close to 75 per cent of games played each weekend,” he said. “Five of the weekends where there were less than 75 per cent played were in December and January. Much of that is down to pitches being unplayable.

“I think that’s telling us something. We know that period is a struggle for us. We have got to look at that.

“We don’t tend to play in November because of the Wales internationals. We have got to really look at that closely.

“Clubs start the season, they get a run of games, they are playing regularly, they are all on a high, then all of a sudden they stop because of the November internationals.

“You then have a number of games postponed in December and January due to weather, so you can end up with a long break. When that happens, players lose interest and people lose interest.

“We won’t have the break in November next season because of the World Cup, but we’ve got to reconsider that period in the longer term.”

The governing body have crunched the numbers for the club game and revealed that 87 per cent of games went ahead (2,664).

Some 330 matches (10.82 per cent) were claimed and forfeited, with one team being awarded a 20-0 walkover and five match points due to the opposition not fulfilling the fixture.

In addition, 56 games (1.84 per cent) were not rearranged or claimed.

John said: “It’s the first full season we have had since 2018-19 due to Covid. People always look at the games not played, but you have got to look at the games that were played. That is a lot of games.

“When you add it all together, 87.34 per cent of the matches were actually played. While we have got 386 games not played, we have got 2664 games that have been played.

“We have got to thank the clubs, the players, the coaches, the volunteers and the match officials for their hard work in getting these games played.”