Sunday, May 06, 2007

Groundbreaker: IRB to shake-up test calendar

The New Zealand Herald reports this morning:

The IRB has responded to fears test rugby is dying by agreeing to clamp down on international sides deliberately selecting weakened squads.

To help the quest to boost international rugby, the IRB has also agreed to scrap in-bound tests in 2011 ahead of the World Cup and has committed to restructuring the season to eliminate player release issues.

The Herald on Sunday understands these agreements were reached on Thursday at an IRB meeting in Dublin and were rushed through amid fears a breakaway by European clubs would jeopardise the international game.

A spokesperson for the IRB said announcements would be made this week, but couldn't comment further. [...]

The IRB is expected to announce this week that, after presenting a range of options on the season structure, the unions have now committed to agreeing on one. The establishment of a single extended international window is understood to be the frontrunner.

Knowing that a deal will be struck on that front, the IRB member unions have been able to push on with other measures to protect and enhance the standing of international rugby.

The major unions are unanimous they must abide by the principle all tests are meaningful by selecting squads that confirm internationals are the pinnacle of the game.

Read the whole story here.


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