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World Rugby cuts semi-finals in revamped Nations Championship plan worth £5 billion

World Rugby met in Dublin on Thursday to open crisis talks with the sport’s top power brokers.

World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont.
World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont.
Image: Brian Lawless

WORLD RUGBY HAVE defended their current Nations Championship concept, claiming that a revamped global competition could “guarantee almost £5 billion for investment” in the sport over a 12-year period.

Rugby’s governing body last month proposed the new championship which would be divided over three divisions and which would encompass teams in a European Conference and a Rest of the World Conference.

Following criticism from leading figures within the game, including World Rugby’s player of the year Jonathan Sexton, the organisation met in Dublin on Thursday to open crisis talks with the sport’s top power brokers.

One of the sticking points within the new proposal would see the introduction of promotion and relegation across the three divisions.

In a statement released today, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont reasserted his belief that a global championship and that the funding that would be pumped into the game – an estimated €5.68 billion commercial partnership with global sports marketing company, Infront – is the way forward.

“I would like to thank my union, competition and player representative colleagues for their candid, constructive and positive contributions,” he said.

There was strong recognition that World Rugby’s Nations Championship proposal, based on a true pathway for all, has been developed with great care, extensive evaluation and with the global game at the forefront of our thinking.

“We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received. Everyone, not just the established teams, will benefit, accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game.

“However, as you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation, but we will continue to engage and consult.

This is a pivotal time for the game. Only by keeping the best interests of the global game at heart will we be able to achieve something truly impactful for the future success and sustainability of the game.”


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world rugby The proposed World Rugby Nations Championship lay out. Source: Image: World Rugby

Among the revisions to the original proposal, World Rugby made the following commitments to get their championship over the line.

  • World Rugby would reduce the schedule by removing the semi-final stage, citing player welfare as a “central consideration”.
  • Players would play 11 Nations Championship matches (and a maximum of 12 matches if their team reaches the final), compared to an average of between 12 and 14 test matches presently.
  • To work with International Rugby Players and leading domestic club competitions to “optimise the model”.
  • To invest in a Women’s Nations Championship to “accelerate the global competitiveness of the game”.

Six Nations chiefs are still expected to resist changes to their current competition set-up and this week looked set to be considering an offer from former Formula One owners CVC Capital Partners to take a stake in the championship.

Such an investment in the already established European competition in its current form would scupper World Rugby’s proposed global championship.

Andy Dunne joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey to discuss Joe Schmidt’s undroppables and how France might attack Ireland’s predictability in The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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