big decisions

World Rugby to continue Nations Championship push at Dublin meetings

The governing body’s CEO, Brett Gosper, admitted that there are ‘some big decisions to make.’

THE FUTURE OF the proposed Nations Championship remains unclear as World Rugby gathers for its council meetings in Dublin on Wednesday.

Rugby’s governing body will lead further discussions about the proposed competition, which it hopes will launch in 2022.

Brett Gosper Chief Executive World Rugby World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper. Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

World Rugby’s proposal is that the annual global Nations Championship would involve promotion and relegation, but that has proved to be a major stumbling block in reaching an agreement with all of the leading unions.

It is not expected that a consensus will be reached this week in Dublin, adding to the sense in some quarters that the proposal is doomed, but World Rugby is still hopeful that the Nations Championship will see the light of day.

“The Nations Championship is pretty central in the discussions,” said World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper yesterday at the launch of the #TryAndStopUs campaign for women’s rugby. 

“There are still some gaps between consensus so we’re going to try and close them over the next few days, or move on one way or another.

“We will see how the conversations go. I don’t want to predict either way really, it really is hard to predict.” 

World Rugby has proposed that the 12-team Nations Championship would include all Six Nations and Rugby Championship countries, as well as Japan and Fiji, in an annual global championship.

Six Nations and Rugby Championship results would be part of the Nations Championship, with the remainder of the games being played in the July and November Test windows, culminating in a global winner being crowned in a final each year.

The proposal was that a second-tier competition would also take place, with a promotion/relegation play-off each year.

It’s understood that Ireland is one of the nations against relegation, and Gosper has previously urged ‘tier one’ countries to be open-minded.

World Rugby has promised the unions that the Nations Championship would generate £5 billion over 12 years, having lined up Swiss company Infront Sports and Media as their commercial partner for the proposed championship.

However, it is still unclear whether or not the Nations Championship concept will come to fruition as Gosper admitted this week’s Dublin meetings are huge for the sport of rugby.

“I think there are some big decisions to make,” said Gosper. “We hope that what we’re proposing is what’s decided. Whatever goes forward, there’s going to be change.

“This debate and this conversation has been interesting for the sport.”

Gosper also said there is a possibility that there could also be a women’s Nations Championship in the future.

“We’re looking at that,” said Gosper. “The proposition we’re making does set aside money for a women’s competition. This will create a possibility of a 10 or 12-team competition across the world. That’s very much in our objectives.” 

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