Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

£800m for Nations Championship is tough to turn down – Andy Goode

By Andy Goode
The All Blacks at Rugby World Cup 2023 (Photo by Julian Finney/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Rugby is far from flush with cash and the offer of £800million over eight years by Qatar to host the new Nations Championship finals is tough for Six Nations Rugby and SANZAAR to turn down.

ADVERTISEMENT

We all know that the international game is the sport’s cash cow and New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia have all reported substantial losses in recent years, while the RFU and other northern hemisphere unions have faced challenges too.

We have also seen Wasps, London Irish and Worcester fall by the wayside in the Gallagher Premiership and while they might be separate entities, everything trickles down from the top and money is in short supply in rugby right now.

Video Spacer

Damian de Allende – Walk the Talk Trailer | RPTV

Springbok Damian de Allende joins Jim Hamilton for a fascinating chat about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Full interview coming Thurs 6th June.

Coming Soon

Video Spacer

Damian de Allende – Walk the Talk Trailer | RPTV

Springbok Damian de Allende joins Jim Hamilton for a fascinating chat about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Full interview coming Thurs 6th June.

Coming Soon

Of course, the devil is in the detail and it will be interesting to see how the £800m is divided up and utilised by the various unions, but that is up to them and this is presumably by far the most lucrative offer on the table.

There will inevitably be criticism but the biggest sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World Cup, was hosted in Qatar a couple of years ago and the other contender for that title, the Olympics, is in the running to be staged there in 2036.

The country has also hosted the World Athletics Championships and events in golf, tennis and other major global sports are regularly hosted there, so it’s hard to argue the case that rugby should stand alone or be considered different from other sports.

Given the financial aspect and the deals being done in other sports at the moment, there is obviously a danger that rugby will be left behind if it doesn’t make such a move and it could be a sliding doors moment. Who knows how we will be looking back on this in a decade.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rugby is generally very traditional and wouldn’t take chances like this but the opportunity to have monster occasions like this and generate so much revenue and interest off the back of it is something other sports do.

Qatar Airways has reportedly been lined up as a title sponsor for the six-game finals series involving all 12 tier-one teams, while other companies such as Qatar Energy and the Qatar National Bank are thought to have indicated their interest in becoming commercial partners.

Sponsorship is an area that hasn’t been easy for various rugby tournaments in recent times and TV rights have been an issue for most competitions outside of France’s domestic leagues too so Pitch International’s role will be key.

One major advantage of this proposal is that the location is relatively central and equal for the northern hemisphere countries, South Africa and the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.

ADVERTISEMENT

There are also a lot of expats from the UK, Australia and other competing nations living in the region so you would hope the tournament organisers would be able to persuade them as well as other sport-loving locals and travelling fans to buy tickets.

There are eight official stadiums in Qatar, seven of which have been built since 2010, and all of which are located within a 54km radius of Doha, so the venues are available and the infrastructure is there.

It’s hard to see Guinness Six Nations games being staged outside of the nations involved and Qatar might be interested in hosting a Premiership or Investec Champions Cup fixture. Who knows, but it would be at a much lower level, so this is the one glaringly obvious opportunity open to rugby.

I remember Harlequins beat Wasps in an LV= Cup game in Abu Dhabi back in 2011 and we see the HSBC SVNS staged in Dubai but there aren’t many other examples of high-profile rugby games or competitions in the region.

This is a new tournament being introduced in 2026 so it’s a lot easier to see how it could happen and, given the current financial circumstances in rugby across the globe, £800m in revenue being guaranteed for four editions is clearly not to be sniffed at.

Every sport is trying to broaden its horizons, tap into new markets and get as big a slice of the pie as it can nowadays and rugby is no different, so you have to hope those in charge can navigate the obvious challenges and make the right decision.

The Nations Championship is a new tournament and it has to be a showpiece event. What you don’t want is for it to look and feel exactly like other competitions or what has gone before it, so it should definitely stand out.

It is just a proposal with a two-month exclusivity period at this stage for negotiations, but the sum of money being mentioned will raise eyebrows given rugby’s various recent financial bad news stories.

It remains to be seen whether it comes to fruition but the sports marketplace is fiercely competitive and it’s fair to ask whether rugby can risk being left behind.

Related

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

17 Comments
g
gary 11 days ago

What an absolute load of tripe!( trying very hard to remain polite!) It may be hard for the overpriced “elite” level ( it must be overpriced as it is obviously struggling financially!) to understand, but grassroots rugby will survive because the miniscule amount of money that drips down from the “elite” level for “development” will not really impact them as they effectively self finance. Instead of taking Quatars bribe( great rugby playing nation that it is!) which is what this is , They ( the”elite”) would be better off supporting lesser nations to develop the World game and economically (if you break it down honestly) the “bribe” is not worth the shame that this brings on the greedy buggers at the top table and on OUR wonderful game and trust me, they are wrong if they think it will not!!

S
Shaylen 12 days ago

Most unions would right now say they need the money. Its a good commercial deal and it is lucrative as well. I would hope they could get the crowds in and create a rugby atmosphere. It wont wash away their human rights records or their blood stadiums which were built on the backs of what can only be described as slave labour. That is something Qatar will never live down and rightfully so. The question Rugby needs to answer is if they are comfortable accepting the money and playing in tainted stadia given the human rights record of Qatar and the abuse it took to get these stadiums constructed.

J
Jon 12 days ago

I’m not really one to believe in sports washing being a thing by having fancy looking people on TV. If they want to entice people into their country so that they see first hand what these people are like, I’m all for that. Each person, the host as well as the tourist will see how they behave in a new light. That’s how culture works. So normally I’d say take the money.

In this case however it is not enough. I don’t want to be paid to look at the royals parading around, and I certainly don’t want a 8 team finals series for a 6 week robin tournament. If they want to pay 800m for 4 finals, as has been proposed for this tournament, I would say that would be a fair deal.

f
flyinginsectshrimp 12 days ago

The devil is in the detail
No, the devil is in Qatar. Qatar, with its human rights abuses, and World Rugby can get fucked.

M
MattJH 12 days ago

1.5-2.5 billion should be the asking price. If they want to wash their appalling image, they should pay for it.

S
SadersMan 12 days ago

No-brainer. Take the money.

l
leon 12 days ago

800m over 8 years between 12 unions that’s only 8.3m per union per year and that’s before others dip their fingers in the pie.

Certainly not worth it, selling rugby’s souls to a sports washing state with a terrible humans rights record, to play rugby in repurposed football world cup stadiums built on modern day slavery. Not to mention player welfare, forcing elite athletes to play in over 40 Celsius heat because the tournament is scheduled for the peak summer month in a desert nation

Hell no, thank you very much

f
finn 12 days ago

This sounds great tbh.

I don’t think the nations Cup will be good for rugby, but if its going ahead anyway then having the finals at a predetermined neutral venue that brings in loads of cash seems like the best possible scenario

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

TRENDING
TRENDING Stuart Hogg U-turn confirmed by Montpellier Stuart Hogg U-turn confirmed by Montpellier
Search