World Rugby to tempt Six Nations into Nations Championship with £5bn carrot

Ruben Hill
March 15, 2019

"We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received", said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

"However, as you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation, but we will continue to engage and consult".

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot added: "We are at an important time in our game's history".

World Rugby on Thursday revealed their future vision for the sport in a meeting with leading officials in Dublin, and it emerged that their annual Nations Championship concept will be financed by In Front Sports, based in Zug, Switzerland.

The original concept for the Nations Championship, which reportedly proposed a 12-team global league - including the Six Nations, Rugby Championship teams as well as Japan and the U.S. - received pushback from fans, players and unions. "Only by keeping the best interests of the global game at heart will we be able to achieve something truly impactful for the future success and sustainability of the game".

There were concerns about player welfare from the long format of the competition.

"The prospect of new and potentially lucrative opportunities for rugby are exciting and the potential for a single point of purchase for existing and new broadcasters is also interesting".

France and South Africa have both given their initial support to the plans, while emphasising there are details to be worked on.

A deadline of March 29 has been set for unions to sign up to the Nations Championship - backed by a sports marketing company headed by Sepp Blatter's nephew.

"But there are a number of due diligences to be performed and questions to be answered before anything can come to fruition".

"Our support will enable World Rugby and its member unions around the globe to elevate the game further whilst also providing long-term financial security, across all regions and levels", he said. CVC wants to control the commercial arm of the tournament in return for 30% of the profits but World Rugby pointed out that under its plan all the income generated would go back into the sport and ensure it remained on free-to-air television.

It's believed there may have been a willingness to stall the promotion-relegation element for the initial stage of a new tournament to proved some certainty for competing teams.

Top players had pre-empted the meeting by demanding a seat on World Rugby's executive committee, and the governing body responded by pledging to work with the International Rugby Players organisation and club bosses over the proposals.

The championship would start in 2022, adding to the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, which would increase from four to six teams, with a series of cross-tournament matches in the July and November global windows that culminate in a grand final.

Each team will play the other once, with the top two teams from each conference playing the final.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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