World Rugby have gone public with their plans for a Nations Championship, claiming it would be worth £5billion to the sport over a 12-year cycle.
The world governing body faced a backlash a fortnight ago when reports in New Zealand leaked the initial plans for a new 12-team league which would have left Pacific island nations out of the frame to compete alongside the world’s elite.
World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot and chief executive Brett Gosper both took to twitter to give contrasting messages about the plans for new format, but a crisis meeting has now allowed the body to officially release more information for the first time in their attempt to save the idea.
The statement read: “At the meeting of unions, competition owners and international player representatives, World Rugby outlined details of a game-changing competition model that delivers a true pathway for all unions through a three-division format and a system of promotion and relegation.
“The proposed format would be underpinned by a record commercial partnership with leading global sports marketing company Infront, guaranteeing almost £5 billion for investment in the sport over an initial 12-year period (of which more than £1.5 billion is guaranteed incremental revenue for the world game).
“The proposed business model covers both media and marketing rights but does not include any sale of equity in the competition and therefore full control of the competition and its revenue redistribution model would be retained by the unions, the current major competitions and World Rugby.”
With the video below outlining the format of the Nations Championship showing promotion and relegation will be a feature, this is likely to antagonise the organisers of the Six Nations who are opposed to the idea.
Having given more detail about the potential overhaul of the international rugby calendar, which would also include a cross-hemisphere champion of champions match as of 2022 involving the winners of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont conceded opposition to the proposal would remain.
“I would like to thank my union, competition and player representative colleagues for their candid, constructive and positive contributions,” said Beaumont.
“There was strong recognition that World Rugby’s Nations Championship proposal, based on a true pathway for all, has been developed with great care, extensive evaluation and with the global game at the forefront of our thinking.
“We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received.
“Everyone, not just the established teams, will benefit, accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game.
“However, as you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation, but we will continue to engage and consult.
“This is a pivotal time for the game. Only by keeping the best interests of the global game at heart will we be able to achieve something truly impactful for the future success and sustainability of the game.”