Organisers of the Six Nations have all but ruled out the possibility of a promotion/relegation system being implemented despite ongoing conversations of an international rugby restructure.
Chief executives of leading international unions met in Los Angeles earlier this week to discuss the creation of a new World League consisting of 12 nations to compete on an annual basis, with a proposition to install a promotion/relegation system into the competition one of many concepts talked over in California.
The move would see the bottom-placed Six Nations side take on the winner of the second-tier Rugby Europe Championship – contested between Georgia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Germany and Belgium – in a winner-takes-all clash in Europe’s elite tournament.
Italy have long acted as the cellar-dwellers within the Six Nations set-up since their entry into the competition in 2000.
They have finished in last place 13 times in 19 outings, and are currently enduring a run of 17 consecutive defeats which has seen them slip to 15th on the World Rugby rankings.
13th-placed Georgia, meanwhile, have repeatedly voiced their desire to be apart of the Six Nations, a tournament of which they have described as a “rich old-boys club”, according to The Times.
Georgia have won the Rugby Europe Championship 10 times – including nine of the last 11 titles – since Italy’s admission into the Six Nations.
However, despite World Rugby vice-chairman Augstin Pichot’s publicly announcing his desire to see Georgia join Europe’s elite, Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel has eliminated the prospect of a promotion/relegation system being put into action.
“Any relegation is absolutely not on the agenda,” he told The Times.
“We are working hand in hand with our six constituents so no change on the agenda.
“The values of the Six Nations and what it stands for is what defines us. We have to be extremely cautious when looking at any of these elements.
“That said, it is in the interest of more rugby territories developing and so any relegation matter can only be looked at when there is something of value to be relegated to. So let’s focus more on upgrading something that’s not sustainable.”
All tier one nations – those involved in the Six Nations and Rugby Championship – are expected to be included in the proposed new World League being discussed, as well as tier two sides Fiji and Japan.
The competition structure would allow each team would play each other once throughout the year, followed by a series of play-off matches.
A final between the best nation from either hemisphere would then be played at a neutral venue such as Wembley Stadium in London or Camp Nou in Barcelona.
Shortened versions of the competition could take place in years featuring British and Irish Lions tours, while the tournament would be put on hold during World Cup years in an attempt to protect rugby’s flagship event.
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