New 12-team championship proposed
NEWS: The Six Nations countries have reportedly held talks with unions in the Southern Hemisphere to create a new world championship series.
World Rugby’s proposed 12-team Nations Championship – a project they claimed they had £6.1-billion in funding for a 12-year competition running over three World Cup cycles – was scrapped earlier this year due to a lack of a buy-in from the Six Nations countries who refused to accept the promotion and relegation aspects to the idea.
However, it has now emerged that the 10 leading unions met up during the recent World Cup in Japan to tease out the possibility of creating a more structured Test calendar that would culminate in a final series every two or four years.
With Japan 2019 generating record revenues and television viewing figures, the UK Daily Mail have claimed union representatives held discussions in the hope of coming up with a formula that would ensure the leading teams would play each other more often.
For instance, in the current cycle of fixtures, England had only played New Zealand once in five years prior to last month’s World Cup semifinal meeting in Yokohama.
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While World Rugby’s proposal was ultimately binned, with concerns of player welfare also a factor due to the number of games proposed, a less demanding schedule that would not involve every country playing each other every other season could be the key to establishing a new championship series.
Another reported crucial difference from the scrapped World Rugby plan is that the new series would be ring-fenced by restricting it to only the ten Six Nations and Rugby Championship countries, along with Fiji and Japan.
The future of the Japanese at Test level has become critical following their progress to a first-ever World Cup quarterfinal. World Cup success eventually convinced the Tri-Nations to invite Argentina into their fold and create the Rugby Championship.
Now, preliminary discussions have taken place in the southern hemisphere about the possibility of inviting in Japan and Fiji, although it has also been reported that the Japanese could secure an invite to a seven-team Six Nations.
Monitoring these developments in the wings is CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm whose talks with Six Nations were a contributory factor in that organisation not going along with World Rugby’s Nations Championship.
They have apparently agreed a still-to-be-announced £300million deal to buy 15 per cent stake in the Six Nations and are said to be in support of recent discussions in Japan to potentially establish a new world series.
World Rugby, though, would ultimately be required to give their blessing to any new tournament.