Global season closer, says SA boss
Progress towards a global rugby season may be glacial but it is happening, according to South Africa rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
The first step to change would involve small shifts in itineraries.
However, the South Africans are demanding the need for a sixth franchise is a non-negotiable part of a future Super Rugby plan, but they are up against concerns from the Sanzar partners that the conference system will be unbalanced.
With concerns in Europe about the future shape of competitions there, there was a greater desire at the International Rugby Board to have the global season rated as 'a paramount issue'.
"It's on the agenda for the next executive council meeting – and has been on the agenda for a long time," Roux said.
"Now they've actually got schedules for the first time, they're talking about it , there's a willingness from both parties [hemispheres] to make sacrifices because that's the real thing: somebody's got to make a paradigm shift.
"We don't play rugby in December here; we're all off to the beach or on farms or somewhere other than a rugby field.
"And even if you do organise games at that time of year in Durban, Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, people aren't going to them because they've sacrificed the whole year for that specific family holiday time and they'll just have too much trouble [going to rugby].
"But there's a willingness to at least have that first shift, possibly moving the [mid-year Test window], so I think it's a lot closer than people think it is. You won't see a complete global season immediately where we all play at exactly the same time, but it will be a step closer," he said.
The move to a July window for internationals, instead of June, would allow countries to go straight into The Rugby Championship. That would allow the Super Rugby season to be finished without the break that has been introduced around the June Tests.
"You have to sell Super Rugby, and from a commercial and marketing point of view [the break] is a bit of a nightmare.
"And if we can successfully negotiate that first step, because people are fearful of change, then they'll realise the benefits."
One of the factors could be reducing the exposure of players to the European winter.