World rugby's future in the balance over 'Nations League' plan
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: World Rugby is still looking at proposals to change the XV-a-side code’s global calendar, which it said had the potential to “enhance the international game”.
Officials from Rugby Union’s major countries met with World Rugby chiefs in Los Angeles this week as they continued to grapple with the thorny question of how best to stage Test matches.
There are concerns fixtures in the July and November international windows lack the focus provided by a tournament such as Europe’s Six Nations or the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.
World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot, the former Argentina scrumhalf, has put forward a plan to unite the different parts of international Rugby Union into one annual league, encompassing the international windows, the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.
The so-called ‘League of Nations’ is seen as of particular potential benefit in the southern hemisphere, where rugby economies have been struggling.
But there are concerns that an annual ‘League of Nations’ champion could devalue the quadrennial World Cup, the latest edition of which takes place in Japan later this year
Six Nations chiefs would also likely be worried by their stand-alone Championship becoming a feeder event, while any plan requiring countries to merge their broadcast rights could face resistance from individual member unions.
It all leaves World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, the former England captain, having to steer a difficult course through the competing interests, with a spokesman for the global governing body telling AFP in London on Tuesday: “Following positive and productive meetings with union and competition CEOs [chief executive officers] in Los Angeles, World Rugby has been tasked to continue exploring the viability of potential global competition formats.
“The objective of this exploratory work is to deliver a global competition product and commercial model that will deliver greater value and certainty to all unions by building on the strong foundations of existing competitions and invigorating the July and November windows,” he added.
“World Rugby would like to thank the stakeholders involved for their contribution to this important project that has the clear potential to enhance the international game for unions, players and fans.”
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