Four Nations may miss out January

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The Independent Online
In an effort to give the Championship a better chance of reasonable weather, the Rugby Football Union will propose to a Five Nations meeting at the weekend that the five rounds of two matches start and finish a fortnight later than now, writes Steve Bale. The RFU does not feel undermined by the unseasonal sunshine that shone on Twickenham for last Saturday's England-France game. Their proposed switch, which would remove January from the schedule, would also give a neater structure to the domestic season.

The vested interest of the French in their club championship has been a previous stumbling-block but the debate now going on in France into their club rugby may act in favour of the proposal. "We've been turned down before but I believe there is more support for it now," Dudley Wood, the RFU secretary, said yesterday.

However, there is no support to accede to television's preference to revert to playing Five Nations matches on separate Saturdays, nor for separating each round so that one game is played on Saturday and the other on Sunday. "We arrived at this doubletonsystem a long time ago and the clubs would be up in arms at any plans to expand the international programme," Wood said. "We don't think Sunday is the right day, especially with players who have jobs to go to on Monday and need that day to recover, and we are not influenced by pressure from the TV people."

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