Coronavirus Cup a new threat to B&I Lions tour
SPOTLIGHT: A proposed World Cup-style tournament could force South Africa to reconsider their plans to host the British and Irish Lions in 2021.
According to a report in The Telegraph a draft proposal for a 16-team invitational tournament – to be staged in June and July next year – have already been submitted to both World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union.
The tournament has been given the provisional title of the ‘Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby’.
The brainchild of former RFU Chief Executive Francis Baron, it is part of a radical plan to raise up to £250-million to address the financial crisis facing the global game caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Telegraph report claims about £15-million of the funds from the tournament will be set aside to save struggling grassroots clubs in England.
The matches would be staged in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and force the Lions tour of South Africa to be postponed.
The British and Irish Lions’ eight-match tour of South Africa is scheduled to start in early July.
“The key will be winning the support of the Southern Hemisphere unions,” Baron told The Telegraph.
“However, with everyone facing horrendous financial challenges, this is a bold and ambitious plan to raise large amounts of new cash from which they will be major beneficiaries.”
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Baron, who put together the RFU’s bid to host the 2015 World Cup, said it was necessary to take “exceptional measures to deal with an exceptional crisis”.
“The RFU should take a leadership position and propose to other major unions and World Rugby that a special one-off tournament be held,” Baron said.
“Its key selling point is that all the money raised would be for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world.
“I have talked to one or two senior colleagues and they all think the country would get right behind it.”
The draft for the tournament involves South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Japan, England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, United States and Canada.
Source: The Telegraph