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Rugby : Pienaar demands Six Nations change

Francois Pienaar is the latest-high profile figure to demand a change to the current Six Nations' format.

The tournament is currently played over eight weeks with Zurich Premiership and Welsh-Scottish League matches fitted in between.

But Pienaar, chief executive of Saracens, believes the competition should be played in one block due to excessive demands on top international players.

The former South African World Cup winner now has the task of picking his players up for their club game with Sale at the weekend before the Six Nations is resumed.

Pienaar said: "The players are playing too much rugby.

"The structure does not support that amount of rugby, it definitely needs to be looked at.

"I've said this time and time again that you can't have a structure whereby the Six Nations is played over two and a half months and club rugby continues because it's just a vicious cycle."

International coaches Ian MacGeechan, Graham Henry and Bernard Laporte have all called for the tournament to be squeezed into one five- or six-week block.

But Allan Hosie, Chairman of the Six Nations Committee, has already stated there will be no alteration to the traditional structure of the tournament until 2003.

Hosie says his hands are tied because of existing sponsorship arrangements.

However, Pienaar feels the game in the northern hemisphere is in need of an overhaul.

He added: "The Six Nations needs to be played in one block and once that happens then you can look at cross border competitions.

"But at this moment in time there are certain contracts covering the game.

"I know those contracts are coming up and it will be interesting to see how it is resolved.

"It's time for change."