Coronavirus wrap: Sir Bill Beaumont considering international restructure

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont is confident a more unified approach to tackle the challenges presented by coronavirus can help his sport create a new international structure.

Plans for a two-tier Nations Championship – working around the Six Nations and Rugby Championship with promotion and relegation – were scrapped in June last year after failing to garner enough support.

But Beaumont, who hopes to be re-elected in his role next month, feels the suspension of sport is a chance to re-examine international calendars.

And, with World Rugby launching an £80million fund this week to help unions negotiate the coronavirus crisis, he is encouraged by the togetherness between rugby nations.

“I’m pretty confident that there will be a variation of the nations cup,” the former England captain told BBC Radio Five Live.

“I think there’s a real spirit of collaboration between the north and the south, looking at what we can do with our playing windows and international windows that can generate more funds in another competition.

“You have to look at the calendar – the British and Irish Lions tour every four years, the Rugby World Cup every four years. It’s a balancing act that you have to do to fit everything into this jigsaw.

“But I think in the past people have been quite protective about what they have got, what we are looking at now this is probably a reality check in the sport – are we doing things correctly? You are pretty foolish if you don’t learn lessons.

“There’s a real feeling I get now that some variant of the nations league will come back on the table.”

Beaumont previously admitted there might not be any more international rugby played in 2020 and uncertainty remains over when domestic sport can resume.

The Premier League held talks with its 20 clubs on Friday with mid-June targeted as a potential time to continue the season, but West Ham chief executive Karren Brady has cast major doubt on whether that aim is viable.

Karren Brady raised problems over a mid-June return
Karren Brady raised problems over a mid-June return

Writing in her Sun column, she said: “Police officers will need to be at games even if they are behind closed doors as some supporters will travel to the stadium, even if they cannot come in to watch. But the police will want to ensure attending matches does not drain resources away from other matters.

“Everyone at the stadium – and even behind closed doors this is about 300-500 people – including security, staff, medical officers, players, referees and media, will have to have temperature checks, fill out health questionnaires and observe social distancing.”

Gerwyn Price was upstaged as Luke Woodhouse produced a sensational nine-dart leg en route to whitewashing the world number three on night two of the PDC Home Tour.

The newly-devised tournament, in which players take part in their own homes and stream the video for fans on the PDC website during the coronavirus lockdown, saw history made as Woodhouse took out 177-177–149 from his own kitchen to move 4-0 ahead against Price.

Woodhouse, ranked 54 places below Price in the PDC rankings, averaged an incredible 113.9 against the Welshman in a 5-0 rout and topped the round-robin standings thanks to 5-2 wins over fellow Englishman Ted Evetts and Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, has announced a planned Ultimate Tennis Showdown league which will stream live matches between players without spectators at his academy starting next month.

The brainchild of Mouratoglou and Alex Popyrin says it aims to create a new way to consume tennis in the absence of the WTA and ATP Tours, both suspended until at least mid-July because of coronavirus.

Fans worldwide will be able to interact with the players and listen to live conversations as on-court or video coaching will take place at the Mouratoglou Academy, located near the French Riviera.

French president Emmanuel Macron this week banned large public events in the country until July 11 but the league says it will abide by social distancing requirements to protect players and coaches, with minimal on-site staff.

Ten matches are scheduled to be held every weekend for five weeks, starting from May 16.

To all the health care workers and other professionals who keep working like true heroes, an infinite applause. #HumanitysHeroes taking the fight to #COVID19#WeWillWin#FIFA


— (@FIFAcom) April 18, 2020

David Beckham, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire are part of a FIFA campaign showing appreciation for healthcare workers and other professionals around the world leading the fight against coronavirus.

In an initiative titled #WeWillWin, FIFA has gathered 50 of the biggest past
and present footballers to applaud the efforts of those risking their lives in
the face of the pandemic.

Former England captain Beckham said: “As footballers, we are used to receiving applause, but this time, we have the opportunity to show our appreciation for the many people who are risking their lives to protect ours.”