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IRFU says it's not against relegation in proposed Nations Championship

Performance director David Nucifora said the union won’t rush into decisions based on money.

IRFU PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR David Nucifora says the union is not against relegation in World Rugby’s proposed Nations Championship.

The annual global international competition, which World Rugby hopes will begin in 2022, was discussed again at the global governing body’s council meetings in Dublin last week.

New Zealand perform the Haka Ireland and New Zealand could be annual rivals in the proposed Nations Championship. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

It had been understood that Ireland was one of the nations that have been opposing the idea of relegation but Nucifora said that was not the case.

“No, I’ve read that and read it when I read the Southern Hemisphere media at times too,” said Nucifora.

“We’re not [against relegation]. What we are doing is asking all the right questions. We’re asking what’s right, what’s good, what’s going to work.

“I think one of the really good things about the way IRFU has gone about all things at the moment is we’re being really inquisitive and we’re being really prepared to ask questions and question everything about all the proposals that are out there.”

World Rugby is understood to have offered £5 billion to the 12 possible competing nations over the course of 12 years with its initial Nations Championship proposal.

However, The Telegraph reported that World Rugby had increased that offer at last week’s meetings in Dublin as the governing body looks to convince the unions to agree to move forward with the new competition.

Nucifora said that the IRFU was not going to make any decision based purely on the money on offer.

“We’re not just being driven by numbers and money,” said the Australian. “Sure, that’s going to come into play, no doubt, but we’re looking at structures, we’re looking the positives, the risks, the opportunities that are there in each of the proposals right across all aspects of the game at the moment.

“There would be some other countries around the world that wouldn’t be drilling down as deep as what we are and they’re looking at what the financials are because they need the money.

“And we’re in a position where certainly we’re looking at the financials, but we’re also looking at all the other aspects of how it’s going to affect the game.”

While World Rugby is keen to reach an agreement swiftly, it seems the IRFU is not going to be rushed into committing to anything.

“We’re not for or against anything at the moment,” said Nucifora. “But what you do need is that when you do venture into any new opportunity, you want to make sure it’s right because when you sign up, it’s done.

“And the thing at the moment is the speed at which things are being put in front of people. You want to be able to sit back, take a deep breath and think, and then make a good decision, and I suggest that’s what we’re doing.”

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Murray Kinsella

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