Rugby bosses plan League of Nations

The Wallabies have been included in a proposal for a new League of Nations competition.  Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
The Wallabies have been included in a proposal for a new League of Nations competition. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP


WORLD Rugby has settled on a preferred option for a proposed new league of nations that will dramatically reshape the international game and deliver massive financial bonuses to the Wallabies.

While the proposal is still in its early stages and has to undergo a feasibility study before being approved, it can be revealed the sport's leading nations have at least reached consensus on the preferred model to explore.

If the proposal is considered and is accepted, the top 12 nations will all play each other once a year with the top four going into a playoff system to decide an annual champion.

"The premise is we need to generate more money for the international game and the more meaningful those games are, the more likely they are to generate broadcast revenue so we're doing an exercise in the viability of a broadcast uplift in those fixtures," World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said.


"It just makes sense and it would seem to be the time to do this and there's a consensus and a desire to try and do that

"It's not just Australia, everyone can do with more revenue in this area and the sport deserves to get the value it can get for those fixtures."

Under the preferred format, the top six teams from the northern and southern hemispheres would have to play each other each year with results counting for the 12-team league.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper Picture: Braden Fastier
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper Picture: Braden Fastier

The Rugby Championship and the Six Nations would both double for the league while the crossover matches would take place in the July and November windows.

It would possibly mean the end of three match tours like the one Ireland just made to Australia but would ensure that every match mattered.

"The team coming south would have to play three (different) teams, but it's making sure each game count towards an end that is more interesting to the fans, and therefore a more viable product," Gosper said.

Although the details are still to be worked out, the most likely starting date for the new competition would be 2020 and tours by the British and Irish Lions would continue.

There would also be a second tier competition, with promotion and relegation, and the rankings used to determine the seedings for each World Cup, adding even more incentive for teams to perform well.

"It keeps the Rugby World Cup as the pinnacle event but you're building towards that over a three-year period," Gosper said.

"Everything is under consideration, no decisions have been made yet."

Gosper said the key for the plan to be approved was how much money it was likely to generate but under the proposal, all the major tournaments would be bundled together, which could provide a massive windfall.

"I think we've now spoken to most CEO's across the north and across the south as well as unions across the north and the south and I think everyone wants to see if the theory leads to higher values and the implications," he said.

"It's interesting from a rugby point of view but it's also regrouping the rights of these international games at one purchase point which in itself creates an uplift in value so all international rugby, including World Cup, including all the November, July, Six Nations, Rugby Championship, all grouped together."

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