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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 09:18 GMT
IRB considers global season
Samoa gave England a tough test
A full-strength Samoa would be a sight to behold
The International Rugby Board (IRB) is to consider introducing a global international fixture list to prevent the club-versus-country furore that has blighted the World Cup.

Several countries, particularly from the Pacific Islands, have been hurt by player withdrawals because they were unable to secure their release from their clubs.

IRB chairman Syd Millar said: "I think we may have to address a global fixture list and that means we don't have the problems we do have with release of players.

"We have a committee that looks at fixtures, but as time goes on and there is greater congestion of fixtures, we may need to be a bit more radical.

"That's not to say it will happen, but we need to examine all these possibilities."

Millar said the biggest problem was over when to schedule the international programme, with southern hemisphere Tests clashing with summer sports in Europe.

We have to look at what you do with Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, Georgia and Romania
IRB chief Syd Millar
"If you play matches in May, June, July (in Europe) you are competing with Wimbledon, cricket, athletics and that could see a decline in television and sponsorship interest," he added.

"But if you look at when the Six Nations is played then that means the Tri-nations teams would also have problems."

Millar said a global calendar for international fixtures could also improve competition amongst smaller rugby nations, which he believed could also help reduce the gap between the top teams and lesser sides.

"People talk about money and finance, but the most important consideration is competition and we have to look at what sort of competitive structures we put in place.

"The obvious place for Argentina would be in the Tri-nations and to make it a four nations (competition).

"We had to bring in Italy in Europe (and) we have to look at what you do with Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, Georgia and Romania.

"We will be setting up a working party in November to look at the problems of the smaller unions and how to get them at another level."

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