It could mean even in the autumn Tests the top players don't play every Test
Welsh Rugby Union chiefs are reportedly in advanced negotiations to stage up to four matches at Twickenham this autumn.WalesOnline previously Rugby Live Free Online revealed Wales were considering playing this autumn's fixtures in England, with the Principality Stadium likely to still be on standby as a field hospital.
Now the Daily Telegraph report the WRU are close to reaching an agreement with their Rugby Football Union counterparts over a deal that would also see their outstanding 2020 Six Nations Championship game staged at the London Stadium.World Rugby meet this week to thrash out the remainder of the 2020 Test calendar, that will be put to a vote by their Council next week.
The likely scenario would see a second tournament this autumn featuring the Six Nations, plus Japan and Fiji as guest teams.And the Telegraph report Wales are keen to play the four matches at Twickenham because the venue can cater for 40,000 spectators, even while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The stadium pact with Wales would also provide the RFU with some much-needed extra revenue as the governing body looks to recover from forecasted loss of £107m due to the coronavirus pandemic.With crowds unlikely to return to the Principality Stadium until 2021, the WRU could stand to lose up to £50million if these fixtures cannot be fulfilled.
The final of the proposed eight nations tournament would also take place at Twickenham on December 5.Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is certain World Rugby wouldn't have the courage to kick New Zealand out of World Cup tournaments if the Kiwis broke ranks and scheduled its own Test matches.
The ex-Welsh coach, who led New Zealand to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, remains annoyed at attempts to introduce a globally aligned international calendar is being scuppered in Europe, reportedly by the Six Nations at first and now by the all powerful English and French clubs.
Hansen also believes World Rugby's attitude to player welfare is getting worse.With hold-ups in the global calendar, Hansen has suggested New Zealand could go it alone and send out its own invites to play the All Blacks.
He told NZ Stuff: “You (NZ Rugby) turn around and say ‘World Rugby won’t dictate who we have to play, other than maybe a tier-two nation’.You arrange your own Test matches. It would sort out who is doing what - because if England wanted to play us, they would play. They do that now, when it is outside World Rugby-appointed Test matches.
“They pay now - so they revenue-share now. So for people to say it will never happen … it will never happen if World Rugby keep organising the games.’’NZ Rugby, like the game globally, has gone into financial meltdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And Hansen asked why should NZ Rugby feel obligated to World Rugby when the Six Nations hold the trump cards.
And it was put to Hansen that an angry World Rugby could try to seek retribution by booting the All Blacks out of the global tournaments.
“I will put it to you this way. Do you think World Rugby would like to have a World Cup without the All Blacks in it?’’ Hansen said. “It just wouldn’t happen because they couldn’t stand for it to happen.And what are they going to kick us out for? For having an opinion?’’
Player welfare a priority for Welsh Rugby Union - DaviesWelsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies says player welfare will be the main priority when the professional game resumes next month.The four regions return from their coronavirus enforced shutdown on August 22 with two rounds of Guinness PRO14 derbies.
With Wales set to play a potentially packed autumn schedule and the Lions tour ending the 2020/21 season, leading players face 12 months of non-stop action.And Davies told BBC Sport: "Player welfare is at the top of everybody's concern.
"Players are going to want to play. This is what they do and something has been taken away from their lives."We have a responsibility as a union to keep these guys on a leash as well.There could be five or six Tests in the autumn and the regions will then want the players back for whatever ensues and then you are into the Six Nations.
From a Welsh perspective our guys have been well managed in terms of the games that they play."There will be a responsibility with the union working with the regions to monitor these guys so they don't play every game.
"It could mean even in the autumn Tests the top players don't play every Test. There is a responsibility on us that we work out a schedule for them [so] that they get through the next 12 months."
The Rugby Paper had reported Francis was one of 30 players to pen new deals to stay at Sandy Park, while Exeter Chiefs' website on Sunday morning clearly said Francis is among 30 players who have signed "new contract extensions".
Francis' deal with the Chiefs was not up until the summer of 2021, but with the Gallagher Premiership salary cap adjustments coming into place from the 2021/22 season, the Devon club have tied down some of their key players on new deals for the future.
The 28-year-old tighthead is 12 appearances short of reaching the 60-cap threshold set down by the Welsh Rugby Union for players signing new deals to play outside of the country.If it were a fresh contract, under the current WRU rules, the York-born front-rower would be ineligible to play for Wales.
A completely new deal would have been a bitter blow for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, who in recent months has seen centre Hadleigh Parkes and utility back Owen Williams rule themselves out of international selection with moves to play in Japan's lucrative Top League.
Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said of Exeter's business: "I’m delighted with what has happened. It seems strange really, because there has been an awful lot of news coming out from other clubs in regards what is happening around pay cuts, players leaving, players staying, yet we have got on with our business pretty quickly.
"In the end, we used that period between the salary cap change being discussed and when any new contract that would be allowed in the new salary cap system to be finalised to sort something like 30 contracts.
"They are all different and not one of them is the same. It’s meant us having individual discussions with players and agents, but in the end I feel like we’ve all got what we need out of it. They are not all four-year deals, nor are they all one-year deals, but we feel we have done the right thing in kind of backing this group of players."
Back in March, Francis opened up about the agonising club or country decision he faced due to the coronavirus crisis.He missed Wales' four Six Nations matches because of surgery on the shoulder he damaged tackling South Africa's Duane Vermeulen during the Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat last October.With Wales' three-match summer tour to Japan and New Zealand called off, Francis faced moving to regional rugby in Wales if he was to continue his Test career.