Should rugby become a summer sport?

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For years, there has been an increasingly bitter argument, with luminaries of the sport campaigning for both sides of the debate over whether or not rugby union should switch to being a summer sport.

Rugby League, of course, made the switch at the dawn of the Super League era, with Sky TV money and the chance to reinvent their code as a colourful, family-friendly sport. It cannot be argued that League’s switch has not been successful, as both TV numbers and attendances to fixtures across all teams look very healthy.

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The Moore the merrier

Former England hooker and sporting national treasure, Brian Moore, argues that the switch to a summer season in Rugby Union is required, not least to align the schedules of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Premiership Rugby teams have lost many key players this season to the World Cup in Japan. The business end of the season will also be disrupted by the Six Nations, which kicks off with Wales vs Italy on the 1st of February. None of these disruptions would have been an issue if Rugby Union ditched the traditional calendar and went for a summer programme.

Grass roots issues

Away from the professional game, amateur players at all levels would probably enjoy their training in warmer weather. It is far easier to complete rugby drills if you can feel your fingers, and getting tackled hurts far more on frozen ground. In fact, a summer based programme may well result in more players picking up the oval ball and getting involved. Warmer conditions may also result in spectator numbers growing at fixtures up and down the leagues.

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That said, the traditionalists will be up in arms over any proposed switch to a summer based Rugby Union calendar. Many Union fans probably reminisce romantically over the way in which they could see their breath when they played in the school team, and that learning to both tackle and be tackled in frozen conditions is what turned them into the men they are today.

Whether Union changes its schedule to become a summer sport, in order to follow the example of League, or remains with the traditional calendar, this debate is guaranteed to rumble on for years to come.

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