That is a big debate that the rugby community has got for many years : the different season calendar between North and South. Many people said, before the last World Cup, that South was better than North simply because they had got a better calendar. That is not false to be honest.
I can understand this opinion. Before every World Cup, Northern nations plays the biggest rugby competition after a very long season with domestic league action and european competitions whereas Southern players use Rugby Championship to improve their skills and their game.
The calendar cannot explain the uncontested domination that South is having on North but it is playing a big part. Today, we can see massive différences in the calendar. Let’s see how organised the calendar is with the North and the South in the following informations.
Rugby Calendar at the moment
Let’s consider the season that a player can have if we take into account that he plays the most games possible and that the teams he is playing for reaches the highest level in all the competitions (leagues, provincial competitons european competitions and international competitions).
Part I : North (Top14 player on a season)
– Domestic league : 14 teams – 26 games (regular season) + 3 play-offs games.
– Champions Cup : 6 pool games + 3 play-off games (QF, SF and final).
– Six Nations : 5 Rounds and 5 games (Six countries : FRA, ENG, WAL, SCO, IRE, ITA).
– Summer Tour : 3 games away (against a Southern Hemisphere or several nations).
– Autumn Tour : 3-4 games home (same system than the Summer Tour).
Part II : South (Super Rugby player on a season)
– Super Rugby : 18 franchises – 17 Rounds – 15 games – 2 bye + 3 play-offs games.
– Summer Tour : 3 games – Tour with a Northern Hemisphere side coming.
– Rugby Championship : 4 nations – Home/Away basis – 6 games (3 home/3 away).
– Autumn Tour : 3-4 games : Southern players coming to play in Europe.
Conclusion : Player involved in the Southern Hemisphere season could play something like : 18 + 3 + 6 + 4 = 31 games.
As you can see, the players playing in the North are playing 15 more games than their colleagues in the South. Here is my proposition for a global calendar to join North season and South season to solve all these calendar controversies.
1. How the season would be organised
The season would start in August both for North and South. There will be the same number of games in a season for all the players. Given the schedule which will be detailed in a few moments, an average of 40 games will be played (without Test level).
2. The Northern Clubs
Let’s take a club playing in the Top14 for example. We said that there was 26 games in the regular season plus 3 play-offs games, including the final. If we add the 6 Rounds in Champions Cup and the 3 play-offs games, we have : 26 + 3 + 6 + 3 = 38 games.
3. The Southern Clubs
Super Rugby is expanding this season from 15 franchises to 18 franchises (Sunwolves, Jaguares and Southern Kings). If we are considering that Super Rugby franchises play each other on a home and away basis and reach the play-offs, we will have : 17 * 2 = 34 + 3 = 37 games.
4. The International competitions
We will keep the same system as today for the Summer Tour and the Southern Tour because it is the only times when North and South nations are facing the same schedule. There is no problem for the Tours in this new schedule.
It will be important toplay Six Nations and Rugby Championship together. That’s why that we will need to find one more week for Rugby Championship (6 Rounds) as there are 5 Rounds in the Six Nations Championship (or maybe the introduction of a seventh nation).
Conclusion : With that new schedule, we would manage to have exactly the same calendar for Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere for the international competitions. We didn’t talk about the World Cup, but it does not change anything, does it ?!
Complete Details – Global Calendar Season
—> Global season (August – June)
Other details for the other competitions
The Anglo-Welsh Cup is kept during November Tour and the Six Nations Championship. We will also kept the New Zealand Championships (ITM Cup – National Provincial Championship – Heartland Championship), the Australian Championship (National Rugby Championship) and the South African Championship (Currie Cup).
Schedule for these competitions : August – September – October.
Possibility for a Super Rugby franchise to include a player even if competition is not over.
Advantages of this new calendar
There are plenty of advantages with a same and global season for North and South. There is more equality during the Summer Tour and the Autumn Tour. The two big international competitions are played in the same time and the players are available for the competitons (no more problems between clubs and countries).