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It's time for summer rugby

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John Beattie | 19:56 UK time, Sunday, 3 January 2010

You are back at work. At your desk. Let your mind drift, come on. Summer rugby, anyone?

At this time of year should we not be having a two-month break, too much food, and keep our training inside?

Getting cold, being trapped in traffic, and slipping on ice while coughing from bronchitis is hardly fun as you try to follow rugby at the moment. Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans must think we are stark raving bonkers.

There was a time long, long ago, when men played rugby in the winter, and cricket or golf in the summer.

The rugby season, when I was a boy, went from October to March with pre-season lasting, oh, a taxing two weeks.

Edinburgh take on Bath in December in the snow

Seriously, that is what the modern season is derived from. A school system where the same patch of grass was used for the year's sports. So, the rugby pitch was cut shorter for the summer's cricket pitch or athletics track.

That's not modern rugby.

Modern rugby has purpose-built stadia and a game best played in the dry. Argue with that all you want but you won't dissuade me. And modern competitive rugby is a year-round process so it should choose as and when it asks people to come and watch.

My son was taking some kids for a training session a few weeks ago and they were standing there frozen, plainly too cold. They all wanted to go inside, and I would be with them.

My house is right across from a rugby pitch and I watch the mini-rugby children and think: "Is this really healthy to allow small boys and girls to freeze in December mud?"

Senior rugby union in the UK has to be made a summer game. It's even more important that junior rugby is a summer game and here we have the problem with school facilities. But surely the game could get round some sensible use of pitch space?

Cricket, golf and tennis would probably be against the move, but rugby has to fight its corner and give the children who play the game the chance to do so in the warmth.

There is absolutely no argument against the fact that British youngsters would have better skills and be fitter if they played summer rugby. Modern rugby balls may be "stickier" but they still slip when wet.

Senior rugby would be much better to watch and, to steal from a previous blog, there would be fewer collapsed scrums.

The fans would be better served by a sport where they didn't have to worry about floods, ice and snow.

We would be in step with the southern hemisphere - well, they have mild winters - the Six Nations would not change, but June, July and August would be rugby months.

Am I alone in this? Barbecues, beer, sandwiches, rugby and some sunshine. Wouldn't that be a great backdrop to British rugby? Pass me the shades.


  • Comment number 1.

    Never mind what the other sports think, this makes perfect sense. Some winter club rugby and autumn internationals would still be welcome, but there's no need to cram all the competition into the six coldest and darkest months...

  • Comment number 2.

    As someone who sat and watched Edinburgh (u-14s I think given the number of handling errors) versus Glasgow in the freezing cold at Murrayfield on Saturday I can heartily concur.

  • Comment number 3.

    Interesting topic this, kind of thing that is an election vote winner with the people, but realistically, men behind the scenes know its not feasible. It wouldn't be implemented as easily as Rugby League was when that changed from winter to summer. I think the argument would come from administrators and broadcasters. What would happen to the calendar? It would look horrendous.

    You'd have the 6 Nations BEFORE the season (if it began in March) and the June Tests would have to move to December too. Then the tri nations would be playing internationals before the Super 14. But then the November internationals would have to move aswell as they would be 2 months after the season finished. It would be a nightmare.

    There would also be claims (rightly so) from broadcasters that there would be 'too much to show', what with Cricket, Rugby League and Tennis (two of which take up channels for most of the day). To add Rugby union in with that would mean other sports losing out cash wise. And throw in a biennial football championship, and Rugby would be fighting for viewers and revenue from Sky et al.

    "Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans must think we are stark raving bonkers."
    Let's not forget that the Air New Zealand Cup is played in June in their winter in NZ, as is the Currie Cup in South Africa. They just don't have as much snow as us in South Africa.

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree totally.Rugby is a summer sport,why we insist on playing it in the winter here in the UK escapes me.
    Surely the unions must also realise the financial benefits of rugby being played in the lighter,warmer months of the year rather than in the darkest depths of winter.
    Youngsters would also be more attracted to the game if they did not have to endure the cold and wet whilst playing and training.
    I vote for no more mud baths and frozen fingers and toes.

  • Comment number 5.

    John, I always knew you were a soft southerner from the central belt... Oh its a bit cold, theres a spot of rain. Boo Hoo. If God had not wanted Scotland to play Rugby in miserable weather he would have put the country in a better place on the map.
    Anyway its character building for the juniors...

  • Comment number 6.

    My only concern with moving rugby to the summer is those small clubs, such as mine, that cannot afford to water the pitches to make them playable. The state of my knees at the start and end of the season is already pretty shocking.

  • Comment number 7.

    Jolomo - Me.softie? Scotland is very much in the middle of the universe and it's a little bit more than rain we have every year to destroy the fixture list.

    SeanPF - I know what you are saying, but I wasn't saying rugby should be played all through the summer, instead it should start and finish earlier for most clubs and the Six Nations would be in the middle of the season - or close to the start of the second part of the season. I think there should be a two month break in the middle, You back up my point when you talk about rugby being a winter sport in NZ, Australia and South Africa - they have really mild winters compared to us.

    Matthew - Is there not more cricket cancelled because of wet weather than rock hard pitches?

    Just back in from coaching my club, West of Scotland. All indoors on a judo mat - good in a strange way.


  • Comment number 8.

    This is maybe a good idea, Jim Telfer wanted to introduce a summer season in the Scottish championship.
    It is a problem with the snow, I am not convinced about the rain...
    "Modern rugby balls may be "stickier" but they still slip when wet"
    I visit Scotland quite often(my wife is Glaswegian), a fan of the Glasgow Warriors, attend as much as I can, Internationals and ML.
    Last summers in Scotland (August) were torrential.
    I remember some World Bag Pipe Championship with heavy, heavy rain.
    My favourite walk close to my mother in law place is Pollock Park, so often taking my car to leave just after the Burrel collection, I was so amazed about flooded Rugby pitches in August.

    Ok in France we are lucky to have dry pitches in the south, but I played the game in Senlis (north of Paris)the pitches there are muddy in winter, but my best memories are in the mud of the pitch of Rugby Club de Senlis.

    I know, I know you are talking about the pro game, so ...

  • Comment number 9.

    I made a mistake about my previous comment,
    "I know, I know you are talking about the pro game, so ..."
    It is about Rugby at every level, youth and amateur game etc..
    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • Comment number 10.

    I play rugby in Scotland in Prem 3 and it is so hard to motivate players for training, especially when you look out the window and think there is no way we will be playing on Saturday. I would love to train in the gym just now and play through the summer, I have never found the hard pitches a problem, and love the games at the start and end of season. I would love summer rugby and to comment that other sports wouldn't like it is pointless. I sat yesterday watching SKY and flicked from cricket to tennis to golf all day. We would all benefit from summer rugby but will the SRU ever agree to this, I don't know, maybe if they were being sensible.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hugues and Saint Jock

    Yes, I think it should be at all levels. There is no sensible reason for playing rugby in the bleakest part of winter, and it is up to players and club men around the country to force the change.

    In fact it's more important that this happens at grass roots level.

    I just don't understand the logic of persisting with this nonsense. I am looking out my window and there is snow everywhere. I wonder how I am going to get my players out to train this evening.


  • Comment number 12.

    Living in a rural area, i am wondering if it is safe to ask the players to drive to training.

    I suggest that anybody who disagrees with summer rugby goes and watches a game of rugby league in July, barbecues outside the pubs, turning up in shorts and t-shirts, attractive rugby and grounds with loads of kids buzzing to play the game. Its no wonder super 14 is the most attractive rugby to watch, and i for one would not whinge about the pitch being a wee bit hard.

  • Comment number 13.

    What? No! cold is good for you and keeps you cool while you run, summer is horrible, sticky and BO becomes the deciding factor on whether to go into a ruck. Plus i played summer rugby in canada and in 4 games we had more injuries than in our 20 game domestic season, due to playing on concrete, actually worse concrete has a bit of give to it. Frozen ground is fine you just get cut up and it's like a free ice pack, dry ground is a concusion everytime someone lands on you. As well as a cold morning cutting through a hangover much better. Who cares about the fans, if they want to be warm, watch beach vollyball, if you want to watch sport suffer in silence. Anyway i love the wet tug of war games it's half the fun. But most importantly we live in Britain warm is for girls and foreign types.

  • Comment number 14.

    Large prop - foreign types? You play with a hangover?

    Although I did play with a prop called Iain Milne who famously ran onto a dry fast pitch and muttered: "Terrible conditions!"


  • Comment number 15.

    Mud, glorious Mud!!! Come on guys, Rugby in the summer??? It'd be like Wimbledon at Christmas...

    Having said all this... I played my last few years of rugby down here in Gibraltar/Southern Spain/Portugal, where most of the time the pitches were like corrugated iron. Not great for the front row, marvellous for the girls - it gave fast-moving running rugby, but the scrapes when you went down... ouch....

    I was brung up though in the mud of East Anglia's pitches, and I can't really imagine the game without it!! :-)

    Chris J

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh!! I forgot to say... summer is of course for sevens... us front row run the line and drink and swear while the girls dance about a bit with a ball... a perfect summer's day :-)

  • Comment number 17.

    No Chris, no Chris, no Chris. Think of all of that at fifteens, and a little rest for us all over Christmas without the guilt. I used to train every Christmas day, and new year's day. People thought I was mad, and I must have been.

  • Comment number 18.

    Players have been calling for this change for sometime now. Really dont know why the SRU is so stubborn. I play in the regional leagues in Scotland and it is very frustrating when you go from playing fast, free flowing rugby in September and October to barely getting out on the pitch in January to train nevermind play.
    Rugby in itself is already a "character builder" as some seem to suggest, however most of us play for the enjoyment of the game. Its hard to enjoy a game when you cant feel your hands or feet.
    As for the pitches being too hard to play on, well the SH teams dont seem to mind that too much considering they currently dominate world rugby.

  • Comment number 19.

    All good points for the game at a certain level, I am a secondary school teacher and have also played [professional rugby. At the top level this is a valid case however we are forgetting the school children who have to play on the not so well maintained pitches that do not have sprinklers.

    We had to postpone many ganmes at the start of September due to the ground being too hard for the kids to play on.

    The last thing we need is for kids to play on the rock hard pitches get themselves injured and be put off playing rugby for the rest of their lives.

  • Comment number 20.

    I remember as a mini rugby player, kids crying from the cold. I didnt see them rushing back the next week to play. I play in the back row and have played games where i have run around for the whole game and come in with my toes blue, and that is no exaggeration. It seems to me that the opinions on here are from players and coaches who want summer rugby and the old guard who clog up our game with their opinion of 'It wasn't like that in my day'.

    Lets move with the times, more fans, more players, better rugby and a Scotland team who might be able to attack as well as defend

  • Comment number 21.

    I can't help agreeing with you that by having a winter break it would make for a better season. I play at a fairly decent amateur level and every season we have at least 4 or 5 games postponed for either flooded or frozen pitches. The last part of the season is broken up with free weekends where we schedule the postponed games. Surely if we had a 4 week break we wouldn't need to have these free weekends where you can end up playing pointless friendlies or the rearranged fixtures anyway.

    I am sitting here looking out of my window now toying with the idea of whether or not to make my way through the ice and snow to the astro pitches we are using to train on as our pitches are like an ice skating rink, in the safe knowledge that our game on Saturday will be called off anyway...all a bit pointless really surely!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with changing professional leagues to a summer league. Schools and clubs are irrelevant as people don't pay to watch them.
    Couple of points:

    1) We uould need to shorten our season to coincide with the length of super 14 season so both southern and northern hemisphere teams could still tour.

    2) it's never going to happen as collectively there are not enough clever people in charge of rugby to sort it. They can't even sort a reasonable fixture list.

    Nice theory though.

  • Comment number 23.

    Rugby is a great game and what makes it so great is the tactical astuteness of the players involved. Changing the season to make it whereby you play in 'easy' conditions almost ruins the game. It is indeed fantastic to watch an exhilarating, free-flowing running game such as the game is in the southern hemisphere however, the diverse nature of the season allows people to truly appreciate the talent on the pitch. Agreed, no-one wants to watch it in the cold or by the same token play/train in the freezing weather, but you must take into consideration for the juniors playing the game that they have the right to be diverse in their sporting lives. Take Danny Cipriani for example. A great rugby and cricket player. Would he have had the opportunity to excel in either sport if the two clashed? Don't mistake me though, I do agree, there is nothing better than watching a game of running rugby how people say it is 'supposed' to be played. But others would also say that rugby is a winter sport played at its best in wet, muddy conditions. It is a topic that could be argued either way and either way, it is a great game!

  • Comment number 24.

    dcrugbymad and others. Please don't get me wrong, I don't want summer rugby for some high reason, it's just that ever since I was a young kid playing rugby, then moving up the ladder, then going into just isn't fun for most people to train and play around december and january. Attendances at training go down, spectators at clubs drift away, and it's difficult to be enthused by training in mud, or snow, or sleet, and then have your game cancelled.

    We all training in a gym tonight, nice and warm and dry.


  • Comment number 25.

    John I have enjoyed your blogs and agreed with most, but not this. I will hold my hand up and admit I am a card carrying member of the front row union. I've always hated pre-season training with it's hard pitches, non stop sprint sessions and unrelenting heat. (I should never have moved down south.)

    Come December all the flash harry lightening quick players were all slowed down to a speed I could better cope with plus I simply loved the satisfaction of playing and getting caked in mud, knowing there was a hot shower and dry clothes waiting for me. I've retired due to injury now and I even prefer watching local games in atrocious conditions as it gives more atmosphere to the occasion.

    Another problem would be that school holidays would muck up the season for kids who get dragged away on holiday, more players would be unavailable due to weddings which seem to take place predominantly in the summer. It's easier to structure a game around a more structured time of year.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have had the luck of playing both NH and SH rugby and personally all the points that have been touched upon in terms of better rugby, more practicality, increased enjoyment etc etc etc are all true.

    The UK doesn't really, on the whole, have major issues with solid grounds during the summer as we simply dont get the sort of heat over prolonged periods of times to really create solid ground. Whereas, the amount of games that get cancelled around the UK over december and january is simply rediculous.

    It would be interesting to see how the calander would get restructured on a profesional level, but it is something that is going to need to be looked into. Ruling it out is silly. However, money talks in this game so it will never happen which is very unfortunate.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a current player in Scotland I can say that every player you speak to agrees with summer rugby. The question is what will the clubs do about it? It is good that someone as prominent as John Beattie is raising this issue, but there needs to be a real groundswell of support to get things moving.

    The SRU commented "It is the clubs' championship, and if there is a consensus, the clubs could put a motion to the agm on the issue." which to me is as good as daring the clubs to do something, but there is a lack of leadership from within the clubs.

    I think the answer to the problem is a season that starts in late winter or early spring and ends in early November, but nobody is willing to raise support for a change in the season so we’ll stay as it is.

    What will John Beattie do to get support in the Scottish clubs for his idea and if people as big as Jim Telfer couldn’t make summer rugby happen will it ever happen?

  • Comment number 28.

    George and Kris

    I do realise that there are problems when it comes to summer holidays, but they are often in July. I think we miss the chance to play more in August and in April and May. Logic tells me that it would be a split season with a month off in the summer, July, and two off in the winter, December and January. Or is a nine month season too long?

    My over riding concern in all of this is that it should be fun for everyone. That is what sport is....... it is fun. You can go and play badminton inside, tennis inside and then outside in the summer, judo inside etc etc. We are just too used to getting miserably cold and muddy in rugby and I just don't think it's fun at this time of the year.

    george 1979 - I get what you say, but imagine a game for all where we don't catch hypothermia. Although I respect your position on this.

    I think some clubs should organise games in the summer, sell out a big crowd, get a barbecue and a marquee with a rock band and then we would see the advantages of summer rugby

    Off out into the frost now and contemplating walking the three miles to the beeb...or maybe not.


  • Comment number 29.

    george 1979

    wanting to slow the game down to the front rows pace is ludicrous, just because you are slow doesn't mean everyone else should be. Crowds dont stand up and cheer when a fat prop stumbles forward 2 yards before flopping on his belly, but they do when a team put a load of passes together and send a player flying through a gap.


    Danny Cipriani may have been a good footballer instead, how has his cricket helped him with his rugby, it maybe on the cricket pitch that he honed his tackling technique, your point is also daft.

    Players want summer rugby, nobody can travel just now, games are off, training is a shambles and indoor facilities cost the clubs. Summer rugby would have less negatives than positives and if you disagree you are either an old duffer who is holding the rest of us back or a prop, known for not having much going on between the ears.

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree whole heartedly about the summer rugby issue. Just on a safety point is makes sense to change the mini's season. The adults season will eventually change as the youngsters progress through the age groups to the adult game.

    I currently coach mini rugby in darkest ayrshire, we have lost about the last 6-8 weeks of coaching due to weather and the holiday period.

    A suggestion from our ex president, who is an RDO with one of the councils, seems quite sensible..

    1. Organise local mini 'leagues', max 10 teams over P4-P7. eg A Glasgow & West league of West, Hawks, Hillhead, Cartha, Paisley, Glasgow Accies, Clydebank, GHA, Greenock, Helensburgh. No points would be awarded for wins - this would be more 'festival' style events - at mini's it should be about playing the 'game' not winning the game.

    2. Season runs mid August - mid/end Nov and March - June.

    3. Games could be arranged outwith the usual sundays eg on a Friday night in June, with the clubs being able to host barbecues etc - more fundraising opportunities to support the mini's - promoting the social side of rugby.

    4. End of season Year tournaments held at the clubs. Eg P4 from League would all play at say West, P5's at Hawks, etc.

    Having the mini's season slightly outwith the adult season would release some adults into coaching roles at the minis.

    It is seriously time for change.. having 8 - 11 year olds out in the pouring rain on a midweek night is not the way to grow a sport...

  • Comment number 31.

    I get that the spectators want to stand around in shorts drinking beer....but really, Rugby Union a summer game....hang your heads in shame.
    Oh to hell with it, let’s just scrap union all together and throw our caps in with league.
    Let’s face it with all the new rules, referring style and the clear imperatives of the powers that be, the modern game is a pale shadow of what it used to be, so making it a summer game will finally allow the southern hemisphere authorities to achieve the desired aim of removing forwards from the game completely.
    Then we could all settle down to a nice 80 minutes of 15 or 13 players lining up opposite each other and seeing who can tackle the need for taking the meteorological conditions into account, rucking, mauling, scrumaging and the like.....oh that would be rugby league then!
    Yes I may of just past 40 and yes I might have been a forward but at least I can still remember when the game really was for everyone – big or small and also that on the miserable days of mid winter the forwards skills could come into play.
    When I was young you would rather poke your eyes out with rusty needles than watch rugby was considered: boring, negative and tedious, whilst union was a swashbuckling, rapier like game full of entertainment. It seems to me that the reverse is true today
    So let’s go to summer Union, 13 a side and do away with the last vestments of: The Scrum, The Lineout, The Ruck and The Maul……a nice warm game of free flowing rugby league.

  • Comment number 32.

    Jim - I agree entirely, that's exactly what I mean.

    Rob, Rob, Rob. No, no, no. The games is for everyone, it is the best game in the world, I love lineouts and scrums and rucking and mauling as they make our game special. I get a kick out of rugby union.

    I just want people of all ages to enjoy it MORE. I want MORE people to play it, and I don't want to see the drop off in attendance I have seen at every club I have played for since the age of 17 at this time of the year. All I am saying is that it is mental playing at this time of the year when we don't play in May, June and the whole of August.

    As for the game not having the open spaces it had before that's because players are bigger, stronger, faster and fitter and they can all tackle and yet the rugby pitch has stayed the same size for a hundred years or so.

    In fact I have in front of me a Scottish international team from 1957 the front row was Hugh McLeod five ten and 13 st 10, RKG MacEwen five eleven and 13st 4, T Elliot a massive six feet and 14st 4. The second rows, for info, were both six feet three with one of them just over fourteen stone and one just under, the back for were all under six two and the heaviest was 13 ten.

    People have changed.

    Sorry to digress


  • Comment number 33.

    The time has come for a serious discussion on the alternatives available to the present playing season. I have never been an advocate for summer rugby but at a time when we are being exhorted to grow the game the subject MUST be discussed. Trying to get players especially mini, midis and youth players to turn out to train in some of the extreme weather conditions prevalent this season is ridiculous. Also we must try to grow the game relative to encouraging supporters to turn out. As I said on another post I am a committed club rugby supporter but as I grow older I am now unwilling to stand in freezing/wet/gales conditions to support my club.

    Move the sevens season to August and let's be playing 15 aside in April and May when we will be playing rugby above the ground instead of through it. I know there are lots of reasons which can be thrown up against playing into the spring/summer eg holidays, club grounds required for other sports, harder grounds (can always water a ground but you canny suck it up) but other summer sports have some of these problems too.


    Let the professional teams and internationals be played through the winter. This would give the amateur club players and supporters the opportunity to support their chosen clubs i.e Glasgow , Edinburgh or whatever. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm a spectator only so i'm having a stab in the dark here but could a split season be one approach to beat the much discussed player burnout?

    I wouldn't play in july or august as i agree with peeps above who say it mixes with the school holidays a bit to much but avoiding jan and early feb i could see being a major advantage (international players cant complain their tired for 6N). Not playing during December risks losing out on the xmas period which would be a good time for the big spectator events at twickenham and wembley (from a commercial point of view that is). I personally don't give a rats about watching rugby in awful weather so not all spectators are softies!

    To those who hold onto the notions of old, things must evolve to a certain extent so don't resist so hard but don't hold back to much or the game will be dragged too far by commercial arms which lets face it is the way the world works!

  • Comment number 35.

    Rob Proctor

    You may be over 40 but your comments are more like a 4 year olds. There is no need to get rid of any of these parts of the game, scrums would be safer as less slipping, lineouts would be slicker as ball and players drier, rucking and mauling would be much quicker. I think you need to put your toys back in the pram.

    All the games I look back on fondly involved firm ground and sunshine on my back, not rain, snow, freezing conditions etc.

    Show me a human being who would rather stand in the cold shivering rather than the warmth and relatively dry summer and i will show you an eskimo.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think I've agreed with all your previous blogs but not this one.
    Summer is a time when many people go on holiday, get married (or get invited to weddings) or attend a host of non-rugby outside commitments. Armed with a (costly) season ticket I'd be less than impressed if I couldn't attend summer games because of such other commitments.
    Rugby Union is already being turned into 15 man Rugby League by dint of the stupid rule changes in recent years. Lets not go the whole hog and follow them into the summer as well.

  • Comment number 37.


    I am told that Jim Telfer said after Scotland lost to Fiji in 1998 in Suva that we should be playing rugby in the summer. I think it is more important that youngsters play in the summer - but I have just spoken to Colin Thompson at the SRU and his idea is similar to others which is to start our season in February, break for June and July, and then get back to it in August stopping for Christmas.

    They key is to have two breaks in the season.


  • Comment number 38.

    I am so pleased your blogs are now receiving international air time - never mind one's view, you certainly get the debate going!

    I had the (dubious) pleasure of training with you for one session back in the 80's... in the winter - my brother played with you at Accies and he dragged me down one night. You scared the heck out of me then, I wouldn't have liked to see you charging around in the dry! Never did I think a nutter like you could transform into such a literate, thought-provoking journo...

    Of course you are correct, nobody likes change, but things move on. I guess the only other nation that would offer some resistance would be the folks of South Island in NZ, where it rains almost as much as Drymen!

    Anyway, please keep putting up all this thought provoking work!

  • Comment number 39.

    Thank you so much Mr Beattie, I have been bleating about this for an ice age.

    One day children will be gobsmacked that football and rugby were played through the winter instead of the summer.

    It's a stupid idea and always has been.

    We must do what is right for us. I have been whinging for ages that we should have stolen a march on football in Scotland and shifted the rugby season to the summer to boost gates and involvement. Now it seems that they are way ahead of us, especially frustrating as I’d thought that rugby was a flexible game, able to learn from the mistakes and excesses of football [salary caps etc...].

    I was told that we can't have summer rugby in Scotland because of the Magners League, specifically the Irish and a deal they apparently have with their various sporting associations to play gaelic football through the summer instead of football and rugby.

    But amateur players deserve better. Serevi ended his playing career at Melrose and lamented that so many pitches were lying empty on a glorious day. Why? Because we're trying to make kids play through the winter? If the bait isn't tempting, the fish won't jump.

    Calendar Year 2010:
    February to April = preseason + Spring Block
    The ideal way to start any season is club rugby: 3 preseason and 9 competitive fixtures in the domestic leagues and the european cups. After 3 friendlies, the squad are ready for competitive fixtures. After 9 competitive fixtures, the players are ready for Six Nations duty.

    May to June = Six Nations + Summer Break
    5 fixtures apiece with a one week break halfway through [6 weeks], followed by a 2 week break in June.

    July to September = Summer Block
    Clubs push for honours with 12 league and cup fixtures.

    October = Autumn Block:
    Domestic play offs and European Cup semi-finals + finals
    Calendar year builds towards a climax as domestic and European titles are settled, while World Cup/ touring squads are selected.

    November = World Cup/ Lions Tour
    The season ends on a high, with the best players in the world competing for the ultimate honours.

    December to January = Winter Break
    [ahhh... that’s more like it]

  • Comment number 40.

    John - I think it is always a great idea to have a debate - especially when sitting in a warm house when looking out over a snowy landscape. Although for one of the few times I'm actually finding myself disagreeing with you.
    One of the things which I think is important is to ensure that the game is played at the top level with the same rules and at the same time of the year as at the grass roots.
    At my club we always struggle to get players in August, September and October with a struggle to get those same players training in June and July. This is because they work in farming! and we live in the middle of a number of farming communities.
    If we turn rugby into a summer sport we would only be able to run 1 side and not the 2/3 sides we currently do. We also have a number of players who play cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter - me included.
    How many games are cancelled in a season - 1 or 2. Lets administer the game better rather than changing anything too fundamental.

  • Comment number 41.

    Vive l'Ecosse - English was always my dodgy subject, and how is the South of New Zealand? I was gentle was I not? All I think is that kids, and junior rugby and grass roots rugby should have a break in Dec and Jan. Great to hear from you - I am trying to guess who you are

    Scotsevensnutjob - we are similar in our views I think. Don't think you can change the Six Nations though - I would keep it simple, start the league in Feb, take June and July off, come back into it in August, and finish by Christmas.

    LittleRew - I think it would marry with the top level as they play until May - at the moment club rugby stops in March, which is just as the Six Nations is on. We would play as above, marry in with the top level, but have a break in June and July. Pre season would effectively be Dec and Jan - weights time. At the moment we ask players to go into the gym in June and July when they should be outside.

    It is difficult in farming areas I do realise that - but it's impossible just now


  • Comment number 42.

    LittleRew, not too sure which part of the country you are in but i am in Bristol (not reknowned for ridiculous weather) and we have already had 4 games canceled this year so far, we had 6 last season and 6 the year before that.
    if you look at more rural locations in Cornwall or the North of England (Cumbria/ Northumbria) then the numbers are even more.
    As for not having enough players in the summer, the idea would be that over time, because the new generation of players are not put off by the weather, they stick with it and therefore in the long term there would actually be more players playing the game so more teams.

    I also coach the game at a junior level and one of the main reasons for fall out is due to the weather and conditions rather than not enjoying the sport.

  • Comment number 43.

    Saras99 - I think I read somewhere that 12 of the possible 14 Border league games have not gone ahead.

    We are debating this on our Friday night rugby programme tonight, BBC radio Scotland 810 medium wave - you can get it on the net and on the red button if you are watching satellite TV. It's free to call on 0500 929500 if you are in the UK, also or text 80295


  • Comment number 44.

    Its freezing and here in Scotland we'll be lucky to play many fixtures at all in the whole of January. An enforced Winter break which will cause problems for leagues and ruin school seasons. For pupils in their final year at school and having progressed to 1st XV level, losing matches is devastating: old rivalries have no finale and what should be one of the best years of your sporting life is an anticlimax. So from all said thus far I agree with you John.

    I also argue strongly that Youth and School Sport must mirror the professional season - didn't we all want to pick up a tennis bat after the finals day at Wimbledon?

    If Pro Rugby moves to Summer, if Club Rugby moves to Summer, so must Schools. Schools have these terrible things - exams! I am also a Crcket nut and Schools Cricket is totally undermined ny endless exams and the best years of a cricketer are undoubtedly after school life is over. Also what would youngsters do in the winter months we would be moving from. The Playstation and XBox have done enough damage to our cuurent generation. Wii Fit can only do so much and is not the social tour de force of our great game.

    Can you envisage another sport moving in the other direction? Nor can I! All sports at the elite end compete for the gifted athlete, if everything is played in the better weather how will young people gain enough time and experience in a sport to know that this is truly their chosen sport.

    Investment in facilities is the key. Games should not be off due to waterlogged pitches - better drainage is needed. Every major city should have an indoor sporting venue such as Toryglen in Glasgow that is not solely for Football but multiuse. Better Covers would improve playing chances in light snow and fairly cold temperatures and finally Baltic weather like now? The Judo Mats are the place to be!

    Great Blog John - Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 45.

    Great Blog.

    I think the problem has to be broken down:

    From a playing perspective it appears to be a no-brainer. The only counter-arguments appear to be from front rows or older players which I can understand, but I feel they would adapt to the change.

    The draw-back seems to be the practicalities of making it happen. We would have to take a prelonged break from rugby in the season that we switch, and there are all kinds of things mentioned in previous posts such a holidays, farmers etc.

    However I would like to see every effort made to make this actually happen because I think players enjoyment and skills would go through the roof. Playing numbers would increase and bigger crowds would turn up to watch. These things are the most important aspects of the game.

  • Comment number 46.

    Nothing beats a good old fashioned game of rugby in the pouring rain, and ending up with kit covered in mud. Its a bit of cold weather, who cares!

  • Comment number 47.

    Saintjock, where is this attitude coming from?

    Where did I say I wanted to slow the game down? I simply want to keep it as it is, subject to the seasonal variances that teams tactics need to adjust to. You on the other hand want to speed up the game out of the reach of the slower player. Why not just go and play league?

    My point was made from the viewpoint of the lower echelons of the game up to the semi professional ranks, a wide spectrum that I played across in my playing career. Do what you want with professional rugby, however rugby union below the professional level is still a sport that can cater for all shapes and sizes and speeds, you don't want that. Shame.

  • Comment number 48.

    I actually think we all agree here in some ways. We are all rugby fans.

    My argument isn't about speeding a game up, or making it inaccessible to anybody, it's about viewing the world as if I had just landing here. I don't think that the coldest wettest bit of the year is the time to play rugby in Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. It might be in Australia or South Africa, but here it is really cold and wet and miserable.

    The game can cater for all shapes and sizes but it would be more fun for all shapes and sizes in slightly better weather. Last summer I was in Toronto and in Canada they play in the summer and the clubs gather in one location and have a great time.


  • Comment number 49.

    10 things that will be lost in the summer:

    1. The smell of your mildew covered boots emerging from a Tescos carier bag after a weeks worth of stagnant hibernation.
    2. The look on your mam's face when she opens your bag to find your bloodied and muddied kit to do the washing the day before training.
    3. Putting on heavy damp jerseys still smelling of mud straight delivered stright from the Launderette.
    4. Freezing cold showers in the darkened muck floored cowsheds we call away changing rooms.
    5. The majestic sight of steam rising from a bald headed prop.
    6. Aquaplanning from the 22 for your only try of the season.
    7. Pulling skin tight rain sodden shirts off the front five.
    8. Trying to drown the opposition on waterlogged pitches.
    9. The ball riding horizontal rain into touch rather than over the crossbar.
    10. Watching your winger develop hypothermia while the forwards keep it tight in the wet and wild of a coastal fixture.

  • Comment number 50.

    Your point is a good one. Personally I play cricket and Rugby would lose between the two unless Rugby changed to a Sunday. May be better for grass roots especially the kids. Not sure my knees would take the impact of the hard ground although the last three summers have had a lot of rain so conditions would have been perfect.
    "I would keep it simple, start the league in Feb, take June and July off, come back into it in August, and finish by Christmas." I think this would work best. Plus better for training without the need of floodlights all the time.

  • Comment number 51.


    The things you would get with summer rugby

    1. A washing machine which lasts more than the guarantee period
    2. Fewer trips to the doctor for water borne diseases
    3. The ability to not think about training on Christmas day and New Year's ever
    4. Hibernation
    5. Catching a ball might catch on
    6. A real thirst for that delicious first pint as the sun sets.
    7. More pocket money from your mam as a direct consequence of your drier kit
    8. Less chance of drowning
    9. The occasional training session in shorts, t shirt and track shoes
    10. Enjoying the coastal view and planning a trip to the sea side as your winger romps down the touch line

    Good fun - anyone else got ten things they would miss if it went to summer rugby?

    IG - thanks, and I can hardly remember a game in Scotland where the grounds are so hard as to make them dangerous, well not in the summer


  • Comment number 52.

    Rugby is played in winter and Cricket is played in Summer - simple. Rugby league (UK) should be played in winter as well!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    I've been fortunate to have played the last 10 years of my rugby in Eastern Canada - ground like concrete, 30deg + weather, 120% humidity, requirement to have the game played in quarters rather than halves to accommodate water breaks to avoid dehydration.

    I LOVE IT!!! Fast, talented players at all levels with the ability to execute on plays because they can actually hold the ball.

    I LOVE IT!!! barbecues and beers on the sidelines, sitting in bars in the open air postgame, watching the sun set.

    I LOVE IT!!!! When I was a single lad I loved the girls teams on the sideline wearing bikinis - I'm not so sure if they do that anymore, don't seem to notice since I got married...

    Injuries... in Scotland I played against Greenock at Fort Matilda (where the rain never seems to stop) when I had a cold and broke my jaw by going in for a stupid tackle. In Scotland I thought I was going to drown a couple of times at the bottom of rucks; the only thought I can remember having was "you can drown in an inch of water" repeating over and over in my head as I tried to turn left or right to get air. In Scotland I remember having 5 of our school team (aged 12 and 13) walk off the field in the cold, 2 of whom were later diagnosed as suffering from MILD HYPOTHERMIA which really doesn't sound right - 12 and 13 year old kids getting hypothermia for the love of the game...

    It seems the best (or even responsible ?) thing to do is reward the kids that would have been brave enough to go out in atrocious and potentially unsafe conditions. Give them summer sunshine to play rugby in.

    Regarding injuries on hard ground. I've torn my ACL which I could potentially put down to the hard ground, I've been sorer after games overall I think due to their being no "give" in the ground so more muscle tear / ligament strain.

    Let's stand up for rugby - it's got the legs to outlast other summer sports, even if the cricketers get a lovely colourful set of uniforms to play in. As to scheduling issues with no sports in the winter - I reckon we could persuade darts and snooker to fill the void. also - isn't football played over winter?

    One more thing if the season would potentially get too long and interfere with other plans why not reduce the size of the leagues and have a cup and league comps run separately?

  • Comment number 54.

    A logical compromise would be to simply move the club season earlier in the autumn, so it starts in early August and finishes just before Christmas before everything gets too muddy (that would make an excellent new seasonal tradition), then have the "international season" starting in February after a month of rest and training camps - with the Six Nations followed by the newly located "spring internationals" in April. No more arguments about "international windows" either!

    It would avoid clashing with the already overcrowded sporting period between May and July then (football cup finals, wimbledon etc)

  • Comment number 55.

    John, if all you wanted was a BBQ we could have arranged that for you today at Millbrae and perhaps we could have had some rugby! The sun was splitting the trees man!

  • Comment number 56.

    Gordon, sun was splitting the trees - if you had removed a few clouds - but neither pitch was playable, which was a shame. We went down wanting to play as we had beaten Melrose the previous week and I know Ayr wanted to play. They had a blower out and some tarpaulins, but Andy Healey the ref said the first pitch wasn't playable.

    We had gone down with two teams keen to play. We then looked at the seconds pitch, some of which was ok, but there were areas where our players' studs didn't even make an impact, and when our team tried some scrums one on one the studs slipped.

    Was nothing like a summer pitch which has grass and can be watered. Our captain and players made the decision with the ref that to play would have been dangerous. As a young nutter I perhaps might have taken a chance, but then I wanted to play cricket in the snow and rugby on ice. The bigger picture is safety and our captain quite rightly took the decision not to play.

    Both Ayr and West have a fixture backlog.



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