Plans being drawn up for Autumn Festival of Rugby

Plans being drawn up for autumn ‘Festival of Rugby’ in London, with eight-team tournament of Six Nations sides plus Japan and World Cup winners South Africa

  • Plans are being drawn up to stage an autumn ‘Festival of Rugby’ in London
  • The eight-team tournament consists of Six Nations plus Japan and South Africa 
  • Officials are scrambling to solve growing north and south fixture uncertainty 

Plans have been drawn up to stage an eight-team international ‘festival of rugby’ in London this autumn, with the Six Nations sides joined by South Africa and Japan.

With continuing uncertainty about the scheduled north versus south November Tests going ahead, officials are scrambling to prepare contingencies.

One of those being considered is a one-off event involving two pools of four leading countries, with the possibility of round-robin fixtures and a final taking place at Twickenham.

Plans are being drawn up for an eight-team ‘Festival of Rugby’ involving the Six Nations

The possible Autumn tournament in London would also involve South Africa and Japan

At this stage, the preference of all unions is to proceed with the matches which have already been organised, including England’s four-match campaign in November against New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia. However, the quest for fall-back options has created an intriguing alternative proposal.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney confirmed on Thursday that, as first reported by Sportsmail, one of the fall-back plans involves a ‘home and away’ Six Nations, starting in November and ending in the usual February-March slot.

But he added: ‘There’s another option of possibly bringing in additional invitational sides. It’s an opportunity to be creative and maybe create some type of festival of rugby.’ 

Bill Sweeney, CEO of the RFU, confirmed the fall-back plan of a ‘home and away’ Six Nations

This year’s Six Nations was suspended mid-way through due to the coronavirus pandemic

His comments sparked speculation that the Six Nations would be joined by two Barbarians-type sides. Instead, Sportsmail understands that South Africa and Japan could participate, which would be a notable coup for organisers. It would pit the European elite against the world champion Springboks and Jamie Joseph’s Brave Blossoms, who were a box-office hit at their home World Cup last year.

Eddie Jones’s side are set to face Joseph’s men in Oita and Kobe in October if the likely rescheduling of those postponed July Tests is approved.

Meanwhile, Jones is likely to be able to call upon Joe Marler whenever England do play again, after Harlequins confirmed yesterday he had agreed a new contract.

The Lions prop has abandoned thoughts of retiring, which appeared a possibility when he was banned for 10 weeks for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones’s groin during England’s win over Wales at Twickenham in March.

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