IRB to end second-rate rugby tours
The International Rugby Board wants to introduce an international rugby calendar.
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2007 12:04 GMT

Lapasset says the standard of international rugby is "not too good at the moment" [GALLO/GETTY]

The International Rugby Board (IRB) is taking steps towards introducing a global calendar to end substandard tours such as the current France tour of New Zealand.
The issue is to be thrashed out at a summit meeting of clubs and international unions soon after the World Cup final in Paris on October 20, Bernard Lapasset, head of the IRB's tours committee, said in Auckland on Monday.

Lapasset, who is also president of the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), admitted to feeling embarrassed about the third-rate quality of his touring side which was beaten 42-11 by the All Blacks on Saturday.

"It's not good for the international level," he said.

About 30 top French players were unavailable for the New Zealand tour because it clashed with the play-offs of their domestic club championship.

England and Wales are also touring South Africa and Australia respectively with under-strength sides.

Graham Henry, New Zealand All Blacks coach, last week called on the IRB to fix the scheduling "chaos."

"When sides are coming to this side of the world that are not as strong as they should be, that's not good for the game," Henry said.

"These things need to be talked about and solved. The game's bigger than that."

Solutions on the table

Lapasset said the IRB originally put nine possible solutions on the table and that number had been cut down to three which will be investigated in November, and although he would not reveal the gist of the three options, he was confident they formed the basis of a return to a schedule providing meaningful contests.

"That is progress and I think we will find a solution and make a decision from those ideas," Lapasset said, adding there were various problems to be addressed.

"In France, we have a lot of Argentine players who are taking the positions of our players, so we don't have enough props. And, down here, the All Blacks not playing in the Super 14 is not good."

Too cluttered

The Frenchman added that the forum would focus on the organisation of the professional game throughout the world, and that sponsors, broadcasters, players and even medical staff would all be canvassed for their views.

"The schedules are too cluttered, there are problems everywhere and the standard of the international game is not too good at the moment," he said.

"We have to take a decision… the next season is crucial."

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