Women's Six Nations 2021: Fiona Coghlan calls for 'normal' Six Nations format

Fiona Coghlan captained Ireland to the 2013 Grand Slam
Fiona Coghlan ended her Ireland career by captaining Ireland to fourth place at the 2014 World Cup

Former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan says the postponement of the World Cup should mean a return to a "normal" format for this year's Six Nations.

Last month, tournament organisers announced that this year's Six Nations would take place in a reduced format across four weekends in April.

Part of the rationale was because of teams still having to fit in World Cup qualifiers before of Covid-19 delays.

"I would love to see it put back to a full five weekends," said Coghlan.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra Time, the former Ireland Grand Slam-winning captain added: "I love the positioning of the Six Nations later in the calendar away from the men's tournament where it has an opportunity to grow long-term but I would certainly love to go back to a full format now we're not trying to fit in World Cup qualifiers.

"The weekends should be there. I do think it's feasible if Coronavirus numbers are continuing to drop and the vaccine programme is in place."

As it stands, teams are only scheduled to play three games in this year's Six Nations with Ireland, France and Wales in Pool B and England facing Italy and Scotland in Pool A.

After their two pool games, the sides will then be involved in a final play-offs weekend against the team that finishes in the same position in the other pool.

"The IRFU has been very good with their protocols around testing and the restrictions in camp," continued Coghlan.

"You are always risking missing games but look at the men's Six Nations and they missed a game (France v Scotland) because of Coronavirus."

Following the news of imminent official postponement of this year's World Cup, it was then announced that Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Spain scheduled for this Saturday had also been called off.

The winners of that game are due to face either Scotland or Italy in May for a place in the World Cup, however with World Rugby poised to rubber-stamp the postponement of the showpiece tournament until 2022, all qualification games have been put on hold.

Coghlan said she was surprised at the decision to postpone this weekend's game when both sides had been preparing for the contest for some time.

"I thought they still would have gone ahead with the Ireland v Spain game just to get it played and not have any more hold-ups down the line."

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