Wales may move Six Nations home games to England with Tottenham stadium in frame

Arch rivals could be forced to unite during the 2022 Six Nations amid reports the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is weighing up the possibility of moving its upcoming home fixtures to England.

Six Nations titleholders Wales are scheduled to host Scotland (Feb. 12), France (March 11) and Italy (March 19) during this year's tournament, but crowds at sporting events are currently outlawed in the country.

That's after First Minister Mark Drakeford banned large crowds from gathering in Wales when he introduced new Covid-19 protocols on Boxing Day, with no clarity those rules will be eased in time for the Six Nations.

The Daily Mail reported the Welsh Rugby Union is considering alternative host venues in England—where there are no crowd restrictions—with Tottenham Hotspur Stadium among the leading candidates.

The two parties were previously in discussions for Wales to host their 2020 autumn fixtures at Tottenham 's home ground before changes in Covid-19 protocols meant all but one fixture took place behind closed doors.

The recent spread of the Omicron variant has caused new complications after the Principality Stadium in Cardiff welcomed back capacity crowds this past autumn, however.

It's suggested the Welsh Rugby Union missed out on just shy of £14million after last year's home Six Nations fixtures against Ireland and England had to be played without fans in attendance.

Moving games across the Severn Bridge to England would represent organisational challenges and a quandary in how to divide revenue from said matches, but it could be preferable to having no crowds at all.

Recent reports have suggested a lack of space in the rugby calendar has left tournament organisers more open to playing fixtures without crowds before they would consider postponing fixtures.

While Wales is currently unable to host crowds, Scotland has limited venues to a maximum of 500 people, while the governments in Ireland and France have allowed for up to 5,000.

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Four-time British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan is eager to see the likes of Wales and Scotland—whom he coached in two separate stints—use neighbouring England as a makeshift headquarters.

"The possibility of moving matches to English venues is certainly intriguing," he wrote in a recent Telegraph column.

"For Scotland, where the maximum capacity at outdoor games is 500, and Wales, where no fans are allowed, the possibility of playing at St James’ Park (in Newcastle) or the Ricoh Arena (Coventry) would surely be preferable.

"And there are currently no legal restrictions preventing fans from crossing the border.

The government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, spoke at a briefing on Tuesday and warned the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has yet to reach its peak in London.

McGeechan acknowledged the prospect of moving matches is more difficult for overseas nations like Ireland or France but suggested it's "worth a conversation. They might prefer to have full houses abroad than sparse crowds at home."

"I would like to see the Six Nations exhaust all possibilities first, to allow as many fans as possible to attend. Crowds are what give games energy.

"The possibility must surely be explored, at least for Wales and Scotland. As a player, given the choice of playing in an empty stadium at Murrayfield or a full house of Scots just over the border, I know which I would have chosen."

There are logistical obstacles for Wales to overcome if they were to use Tottenham's home as a temporary hub.

Their Round 2 fixture against Scotland is due to take place on the afternoon of February 12, less than 24 hours before Spurs are scheduled to host Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.

There's a more direct clash concerning Wales' Round 5 fixture against Italy on March 19 given Antonio Conte 's side are set to face West Ham United at the same time.

It's understood Wembley Stadium is off the table as a potential site for Six Nations fixtures because Gareth Southgate 's England team have international fixtures taking place in March.

The WRU remain in contact with the Welsh government in the hopes that an update could change the current crowd protocols in Wales, though that may be unlikely as daily Covid cases in the UK continue to rise.

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