World Rugby has moved to clarify the organisation’s position on the merits and structure of an annual global competition in advance of key meetings in Dublin next week.
However, the new format has raised more questions around how it will work.
A statement reads:
“The current rugby broadcast market is complicated, which impairs the overall ability of the game – including players, fans, unions and clubs – to realise its full potential. World Rugby is undertaking this important work on behalf of our unions to secure the long-term growth and stability of the sport in an ever more competitive sports and entertainment environment.
“It is incumbent on World Rugby to champion and represent the whole game, not just the top of the game, and we are committed to working with our union and player representative colleagues to ensure an equitable solution that works for all.
That is why we tabled the below competition model with union CEOs and International Rugby Players in September 2018:
Nations Championship to debut in 2022
- The 6 Nations, The Rugby Championship and British and Irish Lions completely retained and protected as jewels in the calendar
- Two-division, merit-based format with promotion and relegation and a potential pathway for all unions
- Two conferences comprising the 6 Nations and The Rugby Championship (where two tier two teams would be immediately added to make six in total)
- Each team plays the other 11 teams once either home or away with points accumulated throughout counting towards a league table
- Top two teams from each conference would play cross-conference semi-finals, followed by a grand final
- Running in two of the four years in the Rugby World Cup cycle (not running in a Rugby World Cup year and truncated version in a Lions year)
- Broadcast rights aggregated and collectively sold, increasing revenue potential. Possibility to centralise some sponsorship rights
- The competition would provide qualification and seeding for future Rugby World Cups
- Rugby World Cup to be enhanced as the pinnacle global event, potentially moving to 24 teams in 2027
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