World Rugby approved a temporary expansion of the autumn international window on Thursday to try and finish the Six Nations and allow for more money-making test matches.
The window that obliges clubs to release players for their country is usually confined to November, but with no major rugby since March and national unions in deepening debt, the window has been enlarged from Oct. 24 to the second weekend of December.
The incomplete Six Nations can play four postponed men’s matches and six women’s matches on Oct. 24 and 31.
The weekend of Nov. 7 will be a rest, followed by four consecutive weekends of internationals.
The Six Nations sides — England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales — have proposed a tournament with Japan and Fiji. Whether spectators are allowed to attend depends on health protocols in each country.
The pandemic has restricted airline travel and closed borders, causing the cancellation of the big southern hemisphere teams’ annual tours of Europe.
Those teams — Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa — will try and play their Rugby Championship in a five-week window from Nov. 7 to Dec. 12.
Instead of the usual home-and-away matches, however, New Zealand has been asked by SANZAAR to host the competition. New Zealand has been playing a Super Rugby spinoff tournament to packed stadiums since June.
“Approval follows extensive and productive dialogue between the sport’s major stakeholders, balancing the interests of the international game, the professional club game and player welfare to determine a schedule that will optimise the immediate financial recovery and funding of the sport at all levels,” World Rugby said.
World Rugby added it was also talking with Tier Two unions about helping them to put together fixtures where COVID-19 restrictions permit.