Jonathan Sexton has come out strongly against the concept of removing breaks from the Six Nations.
In its current format, the five rounds of Six Nations fixtures are spread over seven weeks with squads given two weekends off in between matches.
However, some have suggested that the break weekends should be removed meaning that the tournament would run for five consecutive weeks with no down time for the squads in between fixtures.
The idea has been proposed by English Premiership clubs who are apparently looking to free up space in the domestic season with the English Rugby Union backing the call for a shortened tournament.
However, it seems that outside of England, the proposition has been met with huge negativity as several players have come out strongly against the removal of the ‘down’ weekends.
Speaking at a launch to rebrand the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) as Rugby Players Ireland, Sexton warned against a shortened Six Nations stating that it could severely damage the level of performances in the tournament.
“From a player’s point of view, the way it is now is very good,” said Sexton. “Taking one week out is probably a compromise.”
“They are talking about playing it over five or six weeks, which would be tough going. Now, the World Cup is the same, but during the group stage of a World Cup you might have one or two games depending on the group where you can rotate one or two guys.
“In the last World Cup, we changed up the team totally for Romania so that was essentially a week off, although you could argue that there are no weeks off at a World Cup. It is different at a Six Nations, isn’t it? Every game is full on, pretty intense, so I think the way it is now is pretty ideal.
“Trying to cram it down would compromise … you would see a lot more players missing out on games, basically, because a lot of those weeks are about getting ready for the next game. You want to see the best players play in those games and I think that would be reduced.”
Sexton also went onto address the point that some have raised regarding squad depth and how the English could benefit from a shortened tournament given the fact that their player base is far greater than the other nations.
“Yeah, that’s one argument. You might have players missing a few games with a small niggle whereas you mightn’t miss any with the way it is now. The other argument would be that the best squad would win.”
“That probably suits England. They seem to have three or four or five players of the same standard through different positions but it would test our depth as well and we have maybe a little more depth than we would be given credit for.”
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