18th to 24th May
We are fast approaching the end of week eight of the United Kingdom's stay-at-home campaign. As expected, the Prime Minister made announcements for certain sectors to go back to work, especially those who cannot work from home. Although there are sadly still many fatalities from the virus, it is a cautious step in the right direction in managing the pandemic, while slowly getting the economy to start moving again. This task is impossible to get perfectly correct nor please everyone. Many nations have started to do the same. New Zealand, for example, have had no new cases and are now allowing their rugby union teams to start training again. Australia should not be far behind, but for the rest of the world and wherever rugby is a popular sport, this is still in the planning phase. Being a contact sport, it will always be one of the last to be fully operational again.
We mentioned last week that World Rugby recently had a vote to decide who will be chairman for the next four years. Bill Beaumont, a former England player and who was also the current chairman, was the favourite to retain his position for a second term. The challenger was Augustine Pichot, a former player for Argentina and the vice-chairman under Beaumont. Augustine was best known for his campaign to change the eligibility rule from three years to five years. In rugby union, a player can play for another nation other than their country of birth, provided they complete the three years of residency in their adopted nation. They must also not have played for the highest registered team of their country of birth. The eligibility rule has always been very contentious, as it makes it easy for richer nations to pick off talent from nations who would otherwise find it harder to match the contracts being offered. We feel in all instances players should only be permitted to play for their new country once citizenship has been given. In fairness, some nations do have that rule. The end result is that Beaumont was re-elected and Bernard Laporte of France was chosen as the new vice-chairman. Every member of the Six Nations voted for Beaumont and if you take those votes out of the equation, Pichot won the majority of the remaining votes. Rugby Union is calling out for a global season and this was one of the central aspects of Pichot's campaign. He was also one to push for greater worldwide development and the protection of players, especially from the poorer nations. We will be very surprised if a global season emerges within the next four years. In many ways it appears World Rugby has regressed to a organisation representing the northern hemisphere member nations and not as a truly global organisation that is should be. Pichot has subsequently resigned from World Rugby and the organisation may have lost a chance to bring about the most positive reform for the sport. It is of course not Bill Beaumont's fault that he was re-elected. The strategic voting by the member unions of the Six Nations may indicate that his campaign was more favourable for them and therefore potentially not in the immediate interest of the global game. We will have to see how the next four years will develop.
Staying with rugby union for the moment and World Rugby has announced that tries can no longer be scored against the posts. The protective padding around the base of the two posts has become larger over the years, which makes it very difficult to defend against. A player only has to ensure the ball touches the grass and padding at the same time for the try to be awarded. The annual July rugby union tours have also been postponed and may now not take place this year. July and November are two windows allocated for tours. Football has finally arrived for fans to watch, even if it may not be the league you support. The Bundesliga, Germany's premier football competition, has restarted today to complete the regular season. Elsewhere, Spanish football has given the green light for players to start training again. The date is meant to be in early June for football to resume, which is also meant to be the date for the Premier League to continue with the remaining matches.
Until next time, stay healthy and stay positive.