A SCOTTISH RUGBY spokesperson has stressed that nothing is set in stone at the moment with regards to a proposal that the Scotland national team’s postponed Six Nations match against Wales be played at Twickenham on 31st October, as a means of getting as many fans as possible through the turnstiles.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper has reported that the game will be part of a ‘festival of rugby’ consisting of eight matches played over a five-week window in London. This arrangement is built on the expectation that Twickenham will be able to cater for up to 40,000 fans now that social distancing has been reduced to one metre in England, although there has been no confirmation yet that crowds are going to be allowed to return to major sporting events before the end of October.
This one-off ‘festival of rugby’ tournament – featuring the Six Nations sides plus Japan and Fiji – is expected to be rubber-stamped by the World Rugby Council this month, said the Telegraph. The final of the tournament will be played at Twickenham on 5th December.
“Scottish Rugby don’t really have a position on this at the moment given that nothing has been firmly established yet,” said the spokesperson.
“There is a World Rugby meeting in the next week to look at the issue, but no guarantee that a definitive decision will be possible at that point. We are hopeful that everything will be sorted out for an announcement by the end of the month.”
The spokesman reiterated that Scottish Rugby is currently planning towards a worst-case scenario of no crowds being permitted during the Autumn international window and are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government through the process of relaxing restrictions. It is not clear at this stage what the Scottish Government’s position would be on the national rugby team travelling to London to play in front of 40,000 people.
The Wales versus Scotland game was originally meant to be played on 14th March but was cancelled less than 24 hours before kick-off in a belated response to the threat posed by the Covid-19 crisis.
The WRU is facing a £50 million loss in revenue if games are not rescheduled and has been warned by the Welsh government that crowds are unlikely to be permitted in Cardiff until 2021.
The RFU are also in desperate need of income, with Chief Executive Bill Sweeney stating last week that his organisation is looking at a short-term impact of £107m in lost revenue [50 percent of last year’s turnover] and will need to shed 139 jobs.
The situation is serious in Scotland as well. Chief Executive Mark Dodson has warned that a period if significant retrenchment in the business is inevitable, however details on how Scottish Rugby plan to adapt have been sparse so far.