Rugby: Saracens owner slams Six Nations scheduling

The Six Nations kicks off on February 5. Photo / Getty Images
The Six Nations kicks off on February 5. Photo / Getty Images

Saracens owner Nigel Wray has said the "southern hemisphere must be laughing their heads off'' at the timing of the Six Nations.

The latest edition of European international rugby's premier tournament starts next month and, once again, it will conflict with ongoing domestic leagues.

Under International Rugby Board regulations, clubs must release players for Test duty and Premiership champions Saracens are set to lose several stars right in the middle of the league season when acting England coach Stuart Lancaster names his Six Nations squad on Wednesday.

But with tournament chiefs unwilling to move the competition from its longstanding February-March slot, it's an issue that seems set to linger for some time yet, particularly in countries such as England where players are contracted to teams rather than the national union.

"As I have said before, the southern hemisphere must be laughing their heads off,'' Wray, who has sunk millions of pounds of his own money into Saracens, insisted on Sunday.

"They wouldn't dream of playing the Tri Nations during their Super 15, wouldn't dream of coming here to play winter internationals during their domestic season,'' he added after Saracens' 26-19 win over Bath.

"And they wouldn't dream of receiving our international sides in the summer if it in any way clashed with, once again, their own domestic season.

"We, of course, do the opposite.''

Meanwhile, Saracens coach Mark McCall championed the return to Test duty of ex-England captain Steve Borthwick, who eventually fell out of favour under former national boss Martin Johnson even though Lancaster has said he wants to put the accent on youth in his squad.

"Steve has never given up on England and making a comeback,'' McCall said of the lock. "He is playing so well, yet is someone rarely mentioned in terms of the squad.''

- AFP

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