RFU CEO Bill Sweeney outlines end-of-year international plans

An end-of-year tournament involving the Six Nations teams and two other invited countries is the most likely option for the autumn international window, according to RFU CEO Bill Sweeney.

An end-of-year tournament involving the Six Nations teams and two other invited countries is the most likely option for the autumn international window, according to RFU CEO Bill Sweeney.

England had been due to face New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga in their four end-of-year Tests, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means those matches are looking increasingly unlikely.

There are still outstanding matches from this year’s Six Nations to be fitted in as well and while Sweeney has not entirely ruled out playing the Southern Hemisphere nations, he told the Will Greenwood Podcast an eight-team competition based in Europe is expected to take place instead.

“Our original preference was to continue playing the Southern Hemisphere nations and that was their preference as well,” Sweeney told Sky Sports. “It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely at the moment.

“If the south doesn’t come up here, then we would put together some sort of tournament involving the Six Nations teams and two invited guests.

“We’re having discussions around that at the moment. The window is closing, so we need to make a decision on that by the first or second week of July.

At the moment, I would say the most likely option is a Six Nations tournament with two other invited sides

Bill Sweeney

“At the moment, I would say the most likely option is a Six Nations tournament with two other invited sides.”

Those two other invited sides could be Japan – where England were due to tour this summer – and South Africa, although the latter’s participation would likely hinge on what happens regarding this year’s Rugby Championship.

Sweeney underlined the importance of being able to admit a crowd to Twickenham for home Test matches this year as well, with the RFU in talks with the government over the possibility of that and any social-distancing arrangements they would need to enforce.

“It’s really important to us,” Sweeney said. “Fifty-five percent of our revenue comes from tickets and hospitality, so if these matches happen behind closed doors then frankly it’s not a big difference between that and not having the matches at all.

Source: Read Full Article