THE 2021 Women’s Six Nations has been rescheduled to take place in an abbreviated format during April, while the Men’s Under-20s tournament will take place in June and July.
The two competitions usually run alongside the Senior Men’s tournament which kicks off on Saturday, but had to be postponed this year due to the challenges presented by Covid.
The Women’s tournament will kick-off on the weekend of 3rd/4th April with two pools of three playing in a round-robin basis (one home and one away game each), before each team plays against the equivalently ranked team in the opposite pool on the ‘grand final’ weekend of 24th April. The detailed fixture dates, venues and kick off times will be announced in due course.
The two pools will consist of:
Pool A : England, Italy & Scotland
Pool B : France, Ireland & Wales
Meanwhile, the Under-20s championship will be played in the same format as originally planned, but through a condensed three-week period. The tournament is expected to start on June 19th and further planning work is required to finalise details on fixtures, venues and kick off times which will be shared in due course.
This will presumably necessitate the U20 World Championship, which is traditionally played in June, to be pushed back until later in the year. Scotland were relegated from that tournament in 2019 into the second-tier World Trophy competition, which tends to be played towards the end of summer anyway.
“The promotion and development of rugby at all levels is a key strategic priority for Six Nations,” said Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby. “We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight.”
“Our priority has always been to deliver two outstanding tournaments but equally ensuring both competitions can be played safely, taking every consideration for player welfare.
“A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window due to World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams. Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed that April would be the best window in which to stage the championship.
“The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career. We look forward to announcing fixture details for the U20’s in due course.”