ARU certain June test window has closed for good

Billy Vunipola of England holds off Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper to score during their three test series last June. Photo / Getty
Billy Vunipola of England holds off Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper to score during their three test series last June. Photo / Getty

The Australian Rugby Union is extremely confident World Rugby will agree to shift the June Test window - a move which could fix a major bugbear about Super Rugby.

Since the expansion to 18 teams last year Super Rugby has had to break for a month in June while the Wallabies played Tests against international teams, killing the competition's momentum.

The ARU has lobbied World Rugby to shift the Test window from June to July to alleviate the problem, but the move has always been resisted in the northern hemisphere, particularly by the rich English and French clubs.

But the Europeans are now taking a more flexible approach to the issue and the ARU hopes a decision to shift the Test window will be made this year, although no change could take place until after the 2019 World Cup because the Test schedule has been locked in.

It is one of the main issues that will be discussed at the World Rugby meeting in Dublin over the next three days, attended by ARU deputy chairman Brett Robinson.

"One of the issues we have with Super Rugby is the mid-season break," Robinson said.

"We aim to push back the in-bound tours to allow us to have a continuous Super Rugby season.

"That's something we have been lobbying hard for and I think we are gaining some real momentum.

"We met with the French clubs and the English clubs because they have a huge influence on the northern hemisphere's position on those things.

"That is progressing positively. I would hope we would get to a great outcome this year in terms of announcing a change around that."

A return to a continuous season would be a major boost for the embattled Super Rugby competition, particularly in Australia.

After the World Cup meeting in Dublin, Robinson will attend a SANZAAR meeting in London on Thursday and Friday where the future direction of Super Rugby will be discussed.

While Robinson declined to comment on the ARU's position on the structure of Super Rugby in future, it is understood it favours a Trans-Tasman regular season involving Australian and New Zealand teams, crossing over with sides from South Africa, Argentina and Japan in the play-offs.

This model would provide Australian fans with more New Zealand content, which is arguably the best rugby in the world at the moment, and increased Australian local derbies, while maintaining historic links with South Africa, which also sits in the lucrative European time-zone for broadcast rights.

It was also yet to be decided whether any proposed changes would come into effect next year or in 2020 when the current broadcast agreement expires.

Even if SANZAAR reaches an agreement on a proposal in London, it is unlikely any announcements will be made until the national unions of South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand consult with their stake-holders.

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