World Rugby offers nations £5 billion for new Nations Championship

Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton

Nations Championships: World Rugby revamp backed by £5bn offer

Rugby officials from around the world have met in Dublin overnight discussing the proposed World Rugby Nations Championship concept which now includes a promotion/relegation clause and the initial inclusion of Fiji as the world's 11th ranked nation.

"Everyone, not just the established teams, will benefit, accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game".

Concerns have also been raised by Pacific nations fearful they would be locked out of the competition, leading some players to threaten a Rugby World Cup boycott.

At the meeting of unions, competition owners and worldwide player representatives, World Rugby outlined details of a new competition model that entails a three-division format and a system of promotion and relegation.

Rugby bosses from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have emerged from World League talks in Dublin this week with a fresh sense of support about the radical new competition.

But global sports marketing company Infront's Nations Championships offer is believed to have surprised unions.

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

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot added: "We are at an important time in our game's history. 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".

"It has the potential to secure the financial future of the game.as well as increased funding for the development of the game around the world".

"We know how passionate rugby fans are and we want to ensure accessibility for fans globally, supporting World Rugby's vision to continue making the game a sport for all".

"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", she said.

While the concept has been embraced by the two southern hemisphere nations, Six Nations bosses are understood to be opposed to the idea of promotion and relegation that underpins the Nations Championship concept.

It's believed there may have been a willingness to stall the promotion-relegation element for the initial stage of a new tournament to proved some certainty for competing teams.

The championship would start in 2022, adding to the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, which would increase from four to six teams, with a series of cross-tournament matches in the July and November worldwide windows that culminate in a grand final.

World Rugby also outlined revisions to the original proposal presented to unions in September 2018, following feedback from key stakeholders, including leading players and club competitions. The top two teams would play off in a final.

The statement said the business model covers media and marketing rights but no equity in the competition is up for sale meaning "full control of the competition and its revenue redistribution model would be retained by the unions, the current major competitions and World Rugby".

"I would like to thank my union, competition and player representative colleagues for their candid, constructive and positive contributions", said Beaumont.

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