The BBC – favourites to recapture the Six Nations coverage from Sky – yesterday backed a proposal to stage matches over a whole weekend.
The Six Nations committee is considering playing championship matches on Friday and Saturday evenings in 2002-03, when the new TV deal takes effect, as an extension to the two Sunday games planned for this season.
The BBC is keen to win back the championships following the loss of a number of sports events, including the Saturday evening Premier League football highlights to ITV, and appears ready to go along with the Six Nations' wishes. "The rugby calendar in its current form is very complex," a spokeswoman for BBC Sport said. "The BBC welcomes the Six Nations' current canvassing of opinion on how best to resolve this.
"This is a matter for the RFU and the Six Nations to consider, but the BBC is keen that the outcome of the debate is resolved in the best interests of the sport."
The proposals throw up the question of an England international match being played at Twickenham on a Friday night, although this is more likely to happen in Ireland or Scotland in the first instance, but a Rugby Football Union spokesman declined to discuss this. The RFU is currently awaiting the decision of its appeal, expected to be announced next month, against a local council's decision to refuse permission for three concerts a year at Twickenham.
* The Heineken Cup fixture between Leinster and Toulouse has been transferred from the French city to Donnybrook, to be played at 7pm on Friday.Reuse content