Old-style rugby tours back on agenda - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Old-style rugby tours back on agenda

12/11/2008 09:00:52 PM Comments (0)

Traditional Test tours with midweek matches by rugby's northern hemisphere sides will be investigated as a possible solution to second rate squads visiting Australia.

A meeting of rugby's 10 "tier one" nations in London has agreed to look at reintroducing old-style touring during the problematic June international window, which in recent years has seen the Wallabies take on European sides minus most of their big names.

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill has made the problem one of his main priorities since his return as CEO and has threatened to pull the pin on the likes of England, France, Wales and Ireland if it is not fixed.

"In terms of inbound tours, we could see the likes of England coming to Australia to play three Tests and maybe three midweek matches," O'Neill said in a statement.

"It would put real meaning into visits which in recent years have waned, especially when sides coming to the southern hemisphere have not been at full strength."

O'Neill repeated his threat to call off visits by northern hemisphere teams and organising other opponents in a "deregulated" calendar.

"The unarguable reality is that the June window is a concern for the southern hemisphere," he said.

"By contrast the November window, when the southern hemisphere countries tour Europe, is of enormous benefit to the northern hemisphere nations.

"Hopefully out of this meeting the north have a greater appreciation of the fact that a continuation of them sending under-strength teams into our backyard cannot be tolerated on rugby or commercial grounds.

"We have reached the crossroads in attempts to solve the June window problem.

"If it is not fixed this way then the fallback option of an open marketplace where countries can negotiate their own matches is a genuine solution.

"We need iron-clad assurances from the northern hemisphere nations that they will send their best.

"Otherwise a deregulated June and November window would be viable."

Meanwhile, Argentina's admission to an expanded Tri-Nations competition appears a step nearer.

International Rugby Board (IRB) representatives agreed to "conclude discussions about the integration of Argentina into the Tri-Nations as a matter of urgency".

The proposals will be discussed by the IRB executive committee and IRB council later this month.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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