As everyone in Scotland is petrified of snowballs and the club game looks set to go into cold storage (awful, awful pun…) I suppose it is time to have THE debate. One that rages on, almost as passionately as the debate old bufties still have about pro rugby “being a terrible idea.” Yup, it’s that time; should we have Summer Rugby?!
Since the dawn of time we have had rugby running either side of summer, but we never really get to enjoy the nice weather. We have a few games in the heat at the start of the season and, maybe, one game in the warmth at the end of the season. In the middle we will have about a month and a half of asking “is it on?; Is it too cold/wet?; Will we be able to play by 2?; Do I take the gamble and go out on Friday night?!”
Autumn Internationals will still go on. The IRB will never change that. The IRB will likely never change anything (except the interpretation of the rules at the breakdown. Every. Season.). Yet it should have no impact. So what if the last test is in danger of being played in the end scene of “The Thing”, pro sports teams have undersoil heating.
Herein lies the difference; amateur sports teams cannot cope with the conditions…hell, most professional sports teams can’t handle the condition. In Germany the top football teams get a 26-30 day break (depending on fixtures) over the festive period, because conditions are too unpredictable or hazardous. In the Scottish Club game we have scheduled several league games and a few British and Irish Cup games into this time. Only one club game was played last weekend. The rest were cancelled, like last year. Could we have seen it coming?
Now if we were to take a winter break, we would have to cram in a lot more games in the times either side of Christmas. On the other hand we could change seasons. Too hot? The SRU would probably ban any summer rugby, anyway.
Yet they were willing to dabble with the league structure to make it more exciting (a league split seems a lot less exciting than playoffs, I’m afraid!). If we are so desperate for more fans/people through the gates/likely TV coverage, why not take a punt at Summer Rugby? We can still use a fluorescent yellow ball, if you want…
Obviously rugby originally ran along traditional lines where the seasons coincided with the private schools rugby programmes, and in turn the same as the Universities rugby programmes. However, in, for example, parts of Canada they have their rugby season during summer because the winters are long and impossible to play in. There club rugby is in summer and their university and schools’ programmes run from September (when they reconvene) and finishes over winter, with only a few games after New Year.
These are just a few thoughts as the debate, much like an episode of Strictly Come Dancing, is likely to go on and on and on and on forever. What do you reckon? Tradition or comfort? White-tipped grass or sun-scorched turf?
In a perfect world I know which I’d have. Mind the sunscreen Roddy Grant and Robert Harley (and Rory……)!
As if to prove a feeble point, here are the results since ‘the split’: