WELLINGTON (AFP) –
All Blacks great Dan Carter on Friday backed calls to overhaul global rugby’s playing calendar, saying the off-season is too short under the existing schedule and risks player burnout.
Carter, the reigning IRB player of the year and Test rugby’s all-time highest point scorer, said a combination of international duties and the Super 15 season meant he had missed pre-season training every year for a decade.
“I have been playing professionally for 11 years and I haven’t had a pre-season training since 2002-03,” he told Fairfax Media.
“It’s one thing getting some rest but it’s another thing to get some really good pre-season training before you play.”
Carter said the Southern Hemisphere’s eight week off-season in December-January should be doubled to 16 weeks, allowing players to properly recuperate from the physical demands of a high-impact sport.
“It is really about building up the training base during that pre-season window when you are not having games, not having to rush back into it,” he said.
The 31-year-old added that he did not bounce back from games as quickly as in his youth, admitting: “It takes a lot longer than it did 10 years ago.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and New Zealand Rugby Players Association chief Rob Nichol have also voiced concerns in recent weeks, with Hansen blaming the demanding season for the departure of a number of All Backs to Japan.
However, all previous attempts by the International Rugby Board (IRB) to improve coordination of the global calendar have failed due to the demands of various interests in the game.
Traditionalists do not want showpiece events such as the Six Nations moved, Europe’s powerful clubs oppose further disruption of their season, while the Southern and Northern Hemispheres each want Test windows tailored to their needs.
IRB chief executive Brett Gosper admitted during a visit to New Zealand last month that there was little chance of finding a solution that suited everyone.
“There’s so much rugby and there are so many interests that it’s very difficult to just form a global calendar, easy as it sounds,” he told reporters.