All the evangelical hot air about a synchronised global rugby calendar is disappearing.

There's been a notional agreement about shifting the southern test window in June out a month but beyond that the congested club programmes and broadcasting agreements in the north remain king.

For all the renewed tub-thumping from World Rugby (WR) vice-chairman Agustin Pichot about the messy world schedules and his ambition to save the game from disintegrating, rugby will stay as an ad hoc product while it has multiple directors.

WR is the nominal boss of the game, it is the umbrella organisation where members gather to discuss ideas and concepts and put much of their focus into the quadrennial World Cup. They talk about player welfare but the audience is hard of hearing.


Clubs and their owners boss the balance sheets and the programme in Europe while Sanzaar does its bit in the Southern Hemisphere and WR works around the edges of those disparate calendars.

All the unions and clubs nod to the congestion and the impact on players but continue to stick with the current models or add to the schedules as broadcasters offer more incentives. Pichot is becoming more frustrated by the inability of countries to discuss the issues and thrash out a solution and predicts massive troubles if there isn't a resolution inside a year.

"By the next World Cup," he says, "we need to have a blueprint for the next 10 years."

In almost the same breath Pichot signals his hopes about finding some global consensus and his plans to walk away from his job if he can't make any progress.

He should start packing his bags now unless he can persuade the real power-brokers to get together and agree to stay in the same room until they can thrash out a better long-term future for the game and its players.

Since WR accepted the professional advances of the game, they have conceded control of their sport to the club owners in the north and the ambitious Sanzaar connections in this part of the world.

They all nod and talk a good game about player welfare before the red mist of commercialism hits their balance sheets and they bow to a growing list of commitments.

Someone has to be bold and powerful enough to snap those cycles and maybe Pichot has that persuasive ability to peddle a less is best mantra and sell it to the hemispheres.


This side of the equator, Super Rugby drones on for months before a test recess then a return sprint to the finish. It is a disconnected tournament with an awkward schedule and time differences.

Up north the bleat is about the tsunami of club matches across various tournaments and players tied to their clubs rather than freed for international duty.

Finding a way of dovetailing hemispheric schedules and hoping for annual challenges is like asking Serena Williams to play to the same rules as every tennis player but a genuine reduction in games will boost spectator interest and help player welfare.

When there's something on every game and when matches are not a bridge to the next weekend or simply another step in an elongated tournament audiences will find more to pique their interest and delight broadcasters.

Quality has always presided over quantity. Scarcity creates demand and interest while a distended season of rugby dilutes everyone's attention.