Nations offered 5 bln pound carrot for new global league

16 Mars, 2019, 18:53 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • World Rugby defends under-fire Nations Championship concept

Much of the heat directed at World Rugby centred around player welfare with the sheer number of high intensity matches raising the ire of current and former internationals.

World Rugby's vision is to bring the two hemispheres together, combing the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, with the southern group to include Japan and Fiji.

World Rugby has also said it will work closely with global players and domestic clubs competitions in an effort to "optimise the model" for a new league and is committed to investing in a Women's Nations Championship.

There would be no semi-final stage and players would play 11 Nations Championship matches, which would rise to 12 if a team reached the final.

"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".

That leaves the Irish, Scots and the rest of the Six Nations unions to decide whether to jump aboard the World Rugby bandwagon, or go their own way, by committing to the so-called Project Light - a news rights plan backed by CVC.

There were concerns about player welfare from the long format of the competition.

"The proposed format would be underpinned by a record commercial partnership with leading global sports marketing company Infront‚ guaranteeing nearly £5 billion (R96 billion) for investment in the sport over an initial 12-year period (of which more than £1.5 billion (R28.8 billion) is guaranteed incremental revenue for the world 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 of the game'.

"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".

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"But there are a number of due diligences to be performed and questions to be answered before anything can come to fruition".

France and South Africa have both given their initial support to the plans, while emphasising there are details to be worked on.

Infront's Christian Mueller believes his company's offer can provide the financial security to grow the game globally.

"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", he said.

"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", Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle said via a press release.

World Rugby Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot added: "We are at an important time in our game's history".

The proposal's plan to introduce relegation and promotion to the Rugby Championship and, especially, the Six Nations, is expected to be a major stumbling block, with players and clubs also raising concerns.

Criticism of the original proposals from the southern hemisphere centred on the potential for player burnout and the lack of potential access through promotion and relegation for emerging nations not included in the initial 12-team league.

The decision comes after Wales and Australia's Test captains, Alun Wyn Jones and Michael Hooper, requested that players are given a place at the World Rugby table so that key decisions don't bypass the athletes.

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