Nations Championship plans canned
World Rugby abandoned its plans to create a Nations Championship after failing to gain support from unions, the sport’s ruling body said on Wednesday.
Rugby’s governing body needed unanimous approval from the 10 countries that make up the Six Nations and Rugby Championship – including Australia and New Zealand – to enter into exclusive negotiations.
World Rugby identified the inability to reach a consensus on key issues such as the timing and format of promotion and relegation as the reason for scrapping the project.
“While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.
“This includes our continued commitment to competition and investment opportunities for emerging nations to increase the competitiveness of the international game with a view to possible Rugby World Cup expansion in 2027.”
Rugby Union chiefs wanted to launch a new cross-hemisphere Nations Championship from 2022, in which the first and second-placed sides of Europe’s Six Nations would face off against the two countries at top of an expanded, six-team Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship in end-of-year semifinals and subsequent Final.
The proposals were backed by a record commercial partnership worth nearly £5 billion (US$6.6 billion) of investment.
However, controversial idea to introduce promotion and relegation to both championships were met with trepidation from unions who would run a huge financial risk if teams were relegated.