SA Rugby on Thursday welcomed the announcement by World Rugby of agreement on a new global calendar that would “bring continuity” to the South African season, said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
The new calendar ensures an uninterrupted Vodacom Super Rugby season and introduces a number of significant other changes – including the integration of non-Castle Lager Rugby Championship and non-Six Nations teams into the calendar on merit – and has been agreed for the period from 2020-2032.
The November Test window has also been brought forward by a week to extend the rest period for southern hemisphere players while Rugby World Cups will henceforth be cemented within the calendar to kick off one week earlier in the second week in September.
“The agreement to move the June international window back to the first three weeks of July brings continuity and coherence to our domestic calendar,” said Roux.
“The switch between Vodacom Super Rugby and the Castle Lager Incoming Series, and then back to Vodacom Super Rugby, damaged both events. The change will be welcomed by all in the Southern Hemisphere.“It will allow us to complete Vodacom Super Rugby before engaging in a Test season that will run seamlessly from the Castle Lager Incoming Series to the Castle Lager Rugby Championship without interruption.
“It will also allow touring teams to better prepare between the end of their domestic seasons and the start of southern hemisphere tours.”
Roux said the change to Vodacom Super Rugby would be effective from 2019 – as June tours are not undertaken in Rugby World Cup years – even though the new calendar will only come into operation in 2020.
The new calendar has also been welcomed by players. Rob Nicholl, CEO of the International Rugby Players’ Association, said: “We welcome the agreement of a calendar and appreciate the genuine consideration given to the player welfare needs of the world’s top players throughout the process.
“Rugby has delivered a framework that promotes certainty for the international game moving forward.”
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, described the agreement as an historic milestone for the global game.
“This process has been complex and there was no silver bullet. Compromise has been achieved by all stakeholders in the spirit of collaboration and I would like to thank my union and professional league colleagues for their full contribution and commitment to reaching an agreement that ultimately benefits the whole game.”
The Springbok Test schedule in the new calendar will be announced in due course.