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SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: It’s game over, so now is the time to restart rugby

The decision to close the curtain of Premiership rugby for five weeks and postpone European matches only delays an inevitable halt.

And I don’t feel like trying to save the Six Nations.

Yes, there will be financial costs, but that shouldn’t be a factor – and I assume some sort of insurance for major events has been taken out.

It was a bad decision to host the English Six Nations game with Wales last week in Twickenham

It was a bad decision to host the English Six Nations game with Wales last week in Twickenham

Rugby – and other sports that cancel – may have to do their best, but they have undoubtedly done the right thing and I’m sure enough will be taken into account.

These are extraordinary times and it is clear that live professional sports will not return anytime soon. If so, we need a fresh start.

While I accepted that these were tough times, I was a little disappointed with how the Six Nations reacted to the coronavirus threat.

We scream for decisive and early calls, some leadership. Unfortunately, no one stepped into that vacuum. You expected World Rugby to be on top of everything, but they have no real jurisdiction over the Six Nations, a huge weakness in rugby governance.

Premiership Rugby has agreed to suspend the competition until the weekend of April 24-26

Premiership Rugby has agreed to suspend the competition until the weekend of April 24-26

Premiership Rugby has agreed to suspend the competition until the weekend of April 24-26

The writing was on February 26 when Ireland’s game against Italy was called off. Once it became clear how serious it was in Italy, all bets were not valid. I was very uncomfortable – and wrote to that – about the staging of the England vs Wales game last week in Twickenham.

Sometimes you just have to step back and get some perspective. What we found important one morning was irrelevant the next.

It’s all over: the Six Nations 2020, the Gallagher Premiership, the Pro 14, the Top 14 and the two European leagues.

There is no mileage to hit our heads against a brick wall here. It will make life much easier in the future if we stop this season altogether. We must now focus on 2020-21.

Some hold on for the remaining Six Nations games to be played in October, but can we be sure that this is even logistically possible? No one can guarantee that. And even if they could, competition would be skewed.

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all levels of the game in England until April 14

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all levels of the game in England until April 14

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all levels of the game in England until April 14

When we had foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, the scenario was simple. Could England win their rescheduled match in Dublin to win the Grand Slam? Now there are still three teams competing for the title, but Ireland has two games to play, while England and France have only one. It just doesn’t feel right.

It was bad enough in 2001 when we felt a little cheated at the camp in England playing just one game for the three in Ireland, but this time it’s even messier.

As we enter this rugby-free period, I wonder if there could be an unexpected benefit in the long run.

Rugby has been way too cranky, shocking and confused lately. The feel-good factor of the World Cup has disappeared. It had become a worrying time even before the emergence of the coronavirus.

The game that I knew as a player and coach for more than half a century threatens to lose its soul a bit.

The salary ceiling has always been intrinsically unworkable and unfair to large clubs that feed the English team. It must be changed or demolished, while the role of venture capitalists like CVC must be clearly defined and controlled. Rugby should be in charge of the game and shaping it, not them.

The last round of Six Nations games had already been postponed, probably until October

The last round of Six Nations games had already been postponed, probably until October

The last round of Six Nations games had already been postponed, probably until October

Who else but CVC thinks it’s a good idea to make South Africa part of the Six Nations? Ditto who thinks it’s a good idea for rugby to disappear from terrestrial TV?

And in England there should be clarity about the future and role of the championship, along with promotion and relegation. Some laws require reconsideration and reformulation.

But in the near future, rugby will be invisible – and rightly so.

The movers and shakers now have the opportunity to repair a few fences and think together. The same on the playing side. The game has gotten pretty boring with an emphasis on territory and spades especially box kicking from the scrum half.

We really need some “disruptive” thinking from our top coaches – but I just don’t see this right now.

Like all sports, rugby is going to be a huge hit in the coming months and we’ll see owners who are really committed to the business because they have to take up some of the slack financially.

But the sport must remain positive and proactive behind the scenes. We have to hit the ground when we get out of here.

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