World Rugby reveals Nations Championship plans

Everyone not just the established teams will benefit accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game says World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont

South Africa Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said while there is vast potential for the competition to become successful, the format needs to be consulted with by member unions and player representatives before getting South Africa's seal of approval.

Among other announcements made by World Rugby, the proposed new format would be "underpinned by a record commercial partnership" with marketing company Infront, which they say will guarantee nearly £5 billion ($6.6 billion/€5.9 billion) for investment in the sport over 12 years.

Roux was speaking from Dublin on Thursday, where he and SA Rugby Union president Mark Alexander are attending meetings at World Rugby to discuss the future of the game. By the end of today's meeting, it had become increasingly clear that they just needed the Six Nations unions to jump with them.

World Rugby's dangling a $10 billion carrot in front of national unions as they try to get the new Nations Championship plans across the line.

World Rugby released the proposed format on Thursday, which would see the Six Nations teams continue as normal early in the year, while two additional teams will be added to the Rugby Championship according to the world rankings.

But Infront's statement emphasised the opportunity its own offer would provide to unions and stakeholders throughout the global game.

Top players pre-empted the meeting in Dublin by demanding a seat on World Rugby's executive committee, and the governing body responded by pledging to work with the International Rugby Players organisation and club bosses over the proposals.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle echoed his comments and added that the new competition would have "significant commercial benefit" for the game.

"We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model were well received", said Beaumont.

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As reported by the BBC on Monday, the planned semi-final stage of the Nations Championship has been scrapped, with World Rugby committed to working with players and clubs, after those parties voiced their opposition in recent days.

World Rugby has defended its controversial Nations Championship concept, saying the proposed annual global tournament could earn the sport £5 billion ($6.6 billion) in 12 years.

"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".

'This is a pivotal time for the game. "It is in our interests to grow the audience to ensure it is an attractive proposition for both media and sponsors".

"We have an opportunity to change the landscape of the game for the long-term betterment of all unions".

"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".

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.

"We must work together to ensure the best possible future for our sport - a future where everyone is included and where everyone contributes to and benefits from a truly global game".

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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