It’s an ongoing debate in many rugby circles, but here are the simple reasons summer rugby is a win-win situation for the Northern Hemisphere…
1.Better quality of rugby
The most simple and obvious answer. Yes some diehards may prefer a slog fest in the mud, but for the majority of fans, watching free flowing rugby is a much more attractive proposition. Warmer, drier conditions generally leads to the ball being thrown around a bit more, and therefore not just better quality tries, but more of them. It also helps reduce the number of scrums due to reduced knock-ons, and scrum resets thanks to the ground being firmer under foot.
2.Less conflict with football
The biggest competition for rugby in Europe certainly is the allure of football with all of its overpaid prima donnas. Given that football is a) a predominantly winter sport, and b) always going to be more popular than rugby, a move to summer would help reduce some of the overlap. This means fans who generally prefer football (God knows why) would also have the chance to watch rugby as it would be played at a different time of year.
3.An aligned global rugby season
One of the biggest arguments in favour is the alignment of the global rugby season. This would make tours much easier to organise, whilst club competitions wouldn’t have to be so heavily impacted by the Rugby World Cup. It would also open up the possibility of more cross-hemisphere competitions such as play-offs between the top sides in the European Champions Cup and Super Rugby each year.
4.Less overlap with amateur rugby
A problem many fans and clubs experience is making sure that everyone can attend live games. Given most amateur rugby matches in the Northern Hemisphere are played on Saturday afternoons, fans are often forced to miss attending games due to their club commitments. This would help get more bums on seats in professional games, thereby increasing revenues for clubs whilst also making more players available for amateur sides.
5.Better fan experience
Some fans love it, but for most, the idea of wearing five thermal layers under a rain coat isn’t all that appealing in the middle of January. Instead fans can rock up in shorts and t-shirts without the worrying of getting soaked before or after a game. It may also allow more fans to travel to games by foot or on public transport rather than clogging up the surrounding areas with their own cars – which also means a few beers at a game resulting in increased revenue for teams.
Every year there are more than a handful of games that get called off due to the appalling conditions during European winters. No amount of under-soil heating, now pitch covers can compensate for heavy snow or rain storms. In the summer, whilst pitches may need to be watered before games, there would be no requirement to call games off, avoiding the inevitable end of season clog that occurs due to replays.