With any luck we are about to see a continuation of the 2020 Six Nations.
The French squad is training flat out at Marcoussis before taking the plane to Glasgow for a kick-off against Scotland on 24 October.
Annick Hayraud has picked a group of 32 to cover the remaining two fixtures. By contrast Brian Easson, the interim head coach of Scotland, has limited himself to a squad of 25 for the match, although the Thistles have one more game to complete than the French. He has named two uncapped players, Rachel Law, scrum-half, and Rachel Shankland, centre. Megan Kennedy and Abi Evans return from injury.
Like the Irish and the Italians, the Scots have a greater goal lying beyond the 6N, qualification to the World Cup. So their three upcoming matches will be proving grounds for the new coach to help him decide who best to represent the nation when it really matters.
Then the Bad News
As with every statement made about a future rugby event this year, caution must be the watchword.
In the same week as this positive news item Rugby Europe announces the cancellation of all matches until the end of November. That includes the two qualifying tests Spain had planned, against Russia then the Netherlands.
It throws into greater doubt completing the complex series of internationals needed to decide the final three places for the trip to New Zealand.
Obviously Russian rugby closes down for the winter, so their replay couldn’t come early in the new year.
And once those games are decided, Ireland, Italy and Scotland come into contention. How can the final European qualifier be concluded with the 2021 Six Nations getting in the way?
Next summer looks like being a season of unparalleled international activity.
World Cup Seedings
At the same time news comes from New Zealand of the seedings. The four ‘bands’ follow expectation:
Band 1 – New Zealand, England, Canada
Band 2 – France, Australia, USA
Band 3 – Wales, Europe 1, South Africa
Band 4 – Asia 1, Fiji, Final Qualifier winner
It is the last two bands that are causing all the problems. The RWC committee is keeping very quiet about its effort to get matches staged involving countries spread far across the globe. The only encouraging point is World Rugby’s intention to fund all the competing nations. We can only guess what an astronomical sum that will require.