All Black’s great Sean Fitzpatrick has called for a club window to be put in place to prevent international rugby from cannibalizing domestic club play.
In an interview with the journalist Steffan Thomas in The times, said Fitzpatrick that the outflow of players to international play is forcing clubs to field sub-par teams, making the product less attractive to both players and broadcasters.
Sport did not weather the global pandemic well. A disastrous 2020 left unions and private clubs in massive debt, while game cancellations and the number of spectators allowed in the stadium remain a problem worldwide.
Given doubts about the feasibility of tournaments, the rugby rights market has been curbed, meaning that some competitions, both domestically and abroad, have struggled to find channels.
This week, both the Scarlets and Dragons complained as rumors spread that the opening weekend of the new United Rugby Championship (URC) competition would clash with the time of the Welsh players in the national camp. This forced the URC to issue a statement clarifying that talks about the opening games were ongoing.
Fitzpatrick, who was hooked 92 times for the All Blacks and spent his entire career as a professional club in New Zealand, called for a “club window” to level the international one.
“One thing we learned from Covid is rugby in this part of the world [Wales] is not sustainable, ”he said.
“It has to change. This is not just from a Welsh perspective, but from a global perspective. When you have the right partners and a long-term goal, private equity is a good thing.
“Covid has forced our hand to look for other options. They are great options. What we see around the world is that the international game is fine, but we need competitions other than international rugby that generate revenue.
“That is why the club window is so important. We just can’t go on as we have done before as our best players are unavailable for many games. We need the best players to play. “
Fitzpatrick says the only way forward is to reduce the number of internationals played.
“We have to make sure that we have a club window with no internationals, which means that fewer internationals are played. As long as we don’t have a club window in which we can bring all of our national players onto the pitch, it’s not an attractive product. “
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