World Rugby have ditched their plans to introduce a new Nations Championship worth £6.1b after failing to gain unanimous support from unions.
Scheduled to launch in 2022, the 12-team format was created with the intention of adding deeper meaning to international tours while also flooding the sport with money accrued from broadcast rights deals.
But leaked drafts for the project were met with an avalanche of scrutiny when they showed no Pacific Island nation was included among the top-tier teams, with Japan and USA preferred.
Unwilling to budge on this matter, World Rugby met with bosses from northern and southern hemisphere unions to discuss how a promotion-relegation aspect could be implemented.
Talks which have proved futile despite the sport now attracting interest from private financial entities such as CVC.
“Despite strong progress in collaboration with unions, competition owners and international rugby players, including full engagement on the detailed process of financial due diligence, a lack of consensus on key issues, particularly the timing and format of promotion and relegation, left World Rugby with no alternative but to discontinue the project,” read a statement.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont vowed he would continue to act in the best interests of the sport.
“World Rugby undertook this important project with the best interests of the global game at heart in line with our vision to grow the sport as a game for all,” Beaumont said.
“While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions.”
Players’ unions were also vocal in their determination that the format would be overkill on their bodies given an already congested club fixture list.
Each nation would have played 11 Tests annually with the top two going through to face one another in a final, in a tournament encompassing the Six Nations, summer and autumn Test windows.
World Rugby’s brainstorming of ways to revitalise the game have also turned towards the Rugby World Cup, with Beaumont also saying an expansion to 24 remain a possibility for the 2027 showpiece.
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