Change of schedule for Rugby Union makes it compete for viewers


The 2020 Rugby premiership will see its place on the calendar shifted so that the final doesn’t take place until near the end of June, and the new season not start until late October reports today.

The change is a significant one, and it is not as though things aren’t already bad enough with this years final, which will have to compete against the champions league final, an Anthony Joshua fight, The Derby from Epsom, the French Open Tennis and the early stages of the cricket world cup. Next year it will be just as conflicted with it taking place on 20th June and hence competing with the Euro 2020 football championship, the build-up to Wimbledon and Royal Ascot. The following year it is even later after the nights have already started growing shorter.

These changes aren’t exactly going to make Rugby standout as the sport to watch. It was always a problem draw when it was shown during the deep winter nights with little to compete against it, but pitting it against some of the biggest summer sporting events is going to create significant problems in attracting viewers who will be too busy with other things to notice that the Rugby is on, and this certainly doesn’t augur well for attracting investors to the sport.

It is crucial to the future of Rugby that it is aware of how to promote itself. It can’t rely on the fact that there are two big names competing at Twickenham to attract the crowd. While that has worked well in previous years, where there has been rare good weather, and the game has landed on a half-term that has meant there were plenty of candidates around to watch the game, this won’t always be the case in the future.

This years final should be an impressively huge match, as the Saracen’s, a perineal crowd pleaser look to try and take the double up against an Exeter side that is spoiling for a fight. With passionate fans to fill the stadium, the atmosphere at the game should be fantastic. But given that all the European Cup championship games are over it could be said that the finale of the domestic season is already a little late, let alone next year when it sees it drift further into the summer months.

The time of year that the games are played is a key part of the sports identity, and while it might want to change its image into that of a more forward-thinking happy sunny sport. While short shirts and bare legs might suit the summer months, unless the rest of the production of the sport can also make the shift from Mid-Winter to Summer stunner, then the fans are going to be left with a sport that doesn’t know what it is doing.

The hopes are that a game like the one to be played at Twickenham game show the sport in a positive light, and one that is developing for the fans.