The proposal to fit the Six Nations in a six-week window appears to be dead in the water after the Welsh Rugby Union joined its Scottish counterpart in voicing its opposition.
As part of the reorganisation to the global calendar that could extend the English domestic season to 10 months, the Rugby Football Union – backed by Premiership Rugby – had wanted to scrap one of the two fallow weeks built into the Six Nations schedule. However, any changes would require unanimous approval and it is already clear that will not be reached.
Last week, Mark Dodson, the Scottish Rugby chief executive, said he would fight shortening of the tournament on player welfare grounds, seeing any such move as invoking “a huge gamble with player safety”.
Gareth Davies, the WRU chief executive, has echoed that call, arguing the proposal would adversely affect the nations with smaller playing resources. Indications are that Italy and Ireland harbour similar views.
It means that the RFU and Premiership Rugby will have to go back to the drawing board in their attempt to find a way of shaking up the global calendar.
Currently, every stakeholder wants to preserve or expand their domain without compromising anything. The losers, as ever, are the players, with England internationals poised to engage in a potential 11 month season.
Even if assurances have been given that there will be in-built rest periods within the season, the Rugby Players’ Association, which is due to meet Premiership Rugby this week, insists more must be done with Christian Day, the chairman, even raising the prospect of strike action last weekend.
Meanwhile, Saracens have re-signed Will Skelton for next season. The giant Australian lock will return to Allianz Park at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season with Waratahs.
The New Zealand Rugby Union is in talks to stage a Test against Samoa as a warm-up for the series against the Lions in June.