SANZAAR bosses reveal their stance on World League
REACTION: Rugby bosses from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have emerged from World League talks in Dublin this week with a clear view of where they stand.
World Rugby has defended its controversial Nations Championship concept, saying the proposed annual global tournament could earn the sport £5 billion (US$6.6 billion) in 12 years.
Officials from around the globe met in the Irish capital on Thursday to discuss the concept of the proposed World Rugby Nations Championship, which was initially met with a barrage of criticism worldwide from players, coaches, fans, administrators and pundits for a variety of reasons including disregard for player welfare and a lack of opportunities for emerging nations.
However, World Rugby have since updated the blueprint for the competition, adding a promotion-relegation mechanism to provide tier two and three nations a pathway to compete with tier one countries, while reducing its initial number of fixtures by removing the semifinal round of the competition in a bid to address player welfare concerns.
The international federation outlined its vision for the future of the sport during a meeting with international rugby’s major stakeholders in Dublin on Thursday.
Plans include a three-division format and a system of promotion and relegation, which would be backed by a record commercial partnership with sports market company Infront guaranteeing nearly £5 billion for investment in the game over an initial 12-year period.
In reaction SANZAAR bosses – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – with a fresh sense of support about the radical new competition.
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SANZAAR Chairman Brent Impey echoed World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont’s comments that today’s meeting of World Rugby stakeholders was very encouraging.
“The concept, while there are some practical issues around player welfare and scheduling, is exciting. It has the potential to secure the financial future of the game and develop a true pathway for emerging countries as well as increased funding for the development of the game around the world.
“We thank World Rugby for their leadership in this work and SANZAAR remains committed to working with World Rugby to further advance this concept over the coming weeks.”
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew also welcomed developments in World Rugby talks on the future model for international rugby.
“World Rugby has been working very hard on finding a solution that ensures the future growth of the game in New Zealand and around the world, including the Pacific,” Tew said.
“We now have a strong proposal for a World Rugby Nations Championship that we will need to take back to our stakeholders.
“The creation of a new championship, outside of Rugby World Cup years, has been the focus of discussions with World Rugby for several months and the issues are very complex.
“Our challenge has been to find balance between a model that delivers what fans are demanding, with the welfare of all players, growing the commercial strength of our competition and ensuring we are providing a pathway for other nations.
“New Zealand has been a strong advocate for a pathway for Pacific unions and emerging nations.
“The model currently in front of us looks like it could deliver many of the fundamentals we are seeking in a future championship.
“The prospect of new and potentially lucrative opportunities for rugby are exciting and the potential for a single point of purchase for existing and new broadcasters is also interesting.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle also issued a statement in support.
“The proposal put forward by World Rugby for the Nations Championship has the potential to deliver a great product for fans and significant commercial benefit for Australia and the game globally, including opportunities for emerging nations.
“We commend World Rugby on the work they have done in developing a strong proposal and we remain committed to working towards an outcome that can tick each of those boxes.
“These are exciting but complex discussions which require us to strike a balance between doing what’s best for fans, Australian Rugby as well as the global game, and the players.
“We will now continue the conversation with our member unions and RUPA before reverting back to World Rugby on our position ahead of the next round of discussions.”
South Africa Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said while there is immense potential for the competition to become successful, the format needs to be consulted with by member unions and player representatives before getting South Africa’s seal of approval.
“The model is an interesting one,” he said.
“Creating a meaningful season-long competition out of the current patchwork of events and tournaments has an obvious appeal as well as proving a clear development pathway for emerging nations, which speaks directly to one of the fundamental goals of World Rugby.
“It would also create new and potentially lucrative opportunities for the sport as well as a single point of purchase for existing and new broadcasting players.
“But there are a number of due diligences to be performed and questions to be answered before anything can come to fruition.”
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