Following a consultation meeting in Hong Kong between International Rugby Board management and the chief executive officers of the 10 senior Unions, the IRB will now undertake further detailed work on the concept of an International Inter-Hemisphere Series.
The informal meeting in Hong Kong carried on the work of last November’s IRB Forum held in Woking, England which was convened to study the issue of an integrated season for the game.
IRB management will now consider the views expressed at the meeting as it drafts a detailed plan for an Inter-Hemisphere Series, as requested by the Woking Forum.
Taking into account the in-depth work needed on the concept and the time needed to reach consensus on any proposal with all relevant stakeholders in the game, it is unlikely that any Inter-Hemisphere Series concept would kick-off before 2010.
A Series could only take place in two out of the four years that comprise a Rugby World Cup cycle within the international playing calendar. In the other two years there would be the Rugby World Cup itself and a British and Irish Lions tour.
Ultimately the IRB Council will decide whether to go ahead with an Inter-Hemisphere Series concept once analysis and discussions have been completed.
Each month IRB management and the senior Union CEOs have a phone or face-to-face meeting to discuss issues relating to the business of rugby. The meeting in Hong Kong was the latest of those meetings.
Its top priority was to discuss the practical outcomes of the Woking Forum but other issues on the agenda included the IRB’s Experimental Law Variations, now being trialled in the Super 14, and the impact of a number of proposed amendments to IRB Regulations.
Meanwhile, the IRB admitted that the concept of an annual play-off match between the winners of the Six Nations championship and the Tri-Nations champions was “not feasible.”
The Board said in a statement: “There has been recent media speculation that the meeting (in Hong Kong) would discuss the possibility of an annual play-off match between the winners of the Six Nations and the Tri-Nations. Although the IRB CEOs meeting has no jurisdiction in this area, it did informally discuss the issue and concluded that the idea was not feasible and that the IRB and Unions need not consider this matter any further.”