World Rugby has told unions that time to consider the Nations Championship, the most radical revamp of international rugby since the sport went professional more than two decades ago, can be extended if need be.
Unions had initially been handed a deadline of April 5 to outline the proposed format of the competition and the impact it would have on the world game.
Proposals to implement the Nations Championship, a 12-team inter-hemisphere competition that combines the Six Nations and and an expanded Rugby Championship which includes Fiji and Japan, has become a divisive topic within the rugby fraternity.
The expected kick-off date for the tournament would be in 2022, and World Rugby have proposed three tiers of divisions with promotion-relegation play-offs to provide performance incentives for all involved teams.
Concerns for player welfare, the neglect of developing tier two nations such as Fiji and Georgia, and the impact such a tournament would have on the status of Lions tours and World Cups have been at the forefront of discussions regarding issues about the Nations Championship.
However, newer complications have arisen in the form of relegation threat and the financial insecurity that comes with that for established Six Nations outfits, who have enjoyed a profitable existence without fear of losing their place in the tournament since its inception in 1883.
Unlike their northern counterparts, Sanzaar nations – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – appear interested in the tournament, but have denied the rift in agreement in as simple as a northern hemisphere – southern hemisphere split.
“The reality is that we have a great idea but it comes with complications that need analysis,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said last month.
Watch – Conor Murray speaks to RugbyPass:
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