LONDON: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has proposed an annual match between the Six Nations and Rugby Championship winners as part of a global shake-up.
Officials have held talks about the scheduling of the sport after the next World Cup, with proposals to align the Northern and Southern Hemisphere playing calendars. Six Nations chiefs are reluctant to move from the February-March slot, but Hansen said that an historic agreement of dates between officials would send the game "through the roof".
"It’s a no-brainer," said the double World Cup winner. "You’ve got to say, 'What’s best for our product so we can keep attracting people to come and watch it?'
"First, our players need a decent pre-season. You’d play club competitions simultaneously. We could have the European Cup winners play the Super Rugby winners and the Six Nations winners play the Rugby Championship winners. We need some goodwill to sort it out."
Summer tours are likely to be scrapped in World Cup years, but the future of British and Irish Lions tours is secure despite concerns over player welfare. The Lions face the All Blacks next summer and Hansen is targeting a clean sweep.
"We’ll want to win 3-0," said Hansen. "If the northern nations keep playing well they’ll provide a headache for the selectors."
The 29-year-old Saracens back, who has played 39 Tests, was found guilty of biting Northampton prop Alex Waller in one of two incidents within the space of a minute during a match on Saturday.
“Having considered detailed evidence the panel concluded that during the course of a ruck Chris Ashton bit the arm of Alex Waller at a time that Mr Waller was attempting to clear him out,” disciplinary panel chairman Philip Evans said in a statement.
“The panel concluded it was a low-end entry point aggravated by his previous record.” – Daily Mail, Reuters