Best says virus can lead to global rugby alignment

London (AFP) –


Ireland great Rory Best believes the coronavirus outbreak could give European nations a chance to experience summer rugby and align their seasons with those in the southern hemisphere.

The former Ireland captain is convinced that switching the seasons would boost northern hemisphere nations' chances of winning the World Cup as it would give them equal preparation time for the global showpiece.

In nine editions of the World Cup, England's 2003 triumph is the only time a European country has lifted the trophy.

Rugby union is currently suspended worldwide, with no indication of when European competitions will resume.

Playing into the summer months may be the only way they can end their 2019/20 seasons, if health restrictions allow.

"This might be an opportunity to prove summer rugby could work," said Best, who retired after last year's World Cup in Japan.

"For the sake of rugby, I think they've got to try and align the two seasons."

The 37-year-old added: "In my opinion, it's got to happen. If you take a World Cup, it's coming to the end of a southern hemisphere season so they actually meet as a group of players and they don't have to waste time reconditioning themselves."

"When we come together we have to spend at least three or four weeks getting back into condition after a break," explained Best, who said there was no difference in quality any more between the northern and southern hemispheres.

"That time could be spent as a team preparing to try and win a World Cup."

Best, who won 124 caps, said that even if rugby could resume in the European summer, players would need a four-week pre-season first.

"Maybe it (the current campaign) will go into September before a two, three, four-week break and then the (new) season in October," he said.

"Starting a season in October isn't a massive deal.... You saw when the 2015 World Cup was in England, the English Premiership didn't start until basically Halloween (October 31)."