World Rugby clarifies world league situation: renamed World Rugby Nations Championship
World Rugby has clarified the news around the proposed Rugby World League announced at the end of February which resulted in a huge backlash from rugby players, fans and non-tier 1 Rugby Unions.
World Rugby has released an update on their website and a video which clarifies the naming, format, and the year that this new World Rugby Nations Championship that will start in 2022. The revised proposal is in stark contrast to the competition that was initially rumored to take place.
The biggest opposition to the initial plans were the assumption Pacific nations such as Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa as well as Tier-2 nations like Georgia would be frozen out of the competition. Those fears have been addressed and promotion and relegation systems will be in place for the World Rugby Nations Championship, which will run every year except World Cup years.
World Rugby has moved to clarify the organisation’s position on the merits and structure of a Nations Championship concept in advance of key meetings in Dublin next week. pic.twitter.com/NlefufHdxf
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 6, 2019
World Rugby Nations Championship: What you need to know
- Nations Championship will kick off in 2022.
- The 6 Nations, The Rugby Championship and British and Irish Lions will be retained and protected.
- Two-divisions with a merit-based format.
- Promotion and relegation and a potential pathway for all unions
- Two conferences comprising the 6 Nations and The Rugby Championship (where 2, tier-two teams would be immediately added to make six in total).
- Each team plays the other 11 teams once either home or away with points accumulated throughout counting towards a league table.
- Top two teams from each conference would play cross-conference semi-finals, followed by a grand final in November.
- Won’t run in a Rugby World Cup year and truncated (no promotion-relegation) version in a Lions year.
- Broadcast rights aggregated and collectively sold, increasing revenue potential. Possibility to centralise some sponsorship rights.
- The competition would provide qualification and seeding for future Rugby World Cups.
- Rugby World Cup to be enhanced could increase to 24 teams in 2027.
What does the World Rugby Nations Championship mean for Asian rugby?
In a nutshell, the Asia Rugby Championship has much more significance. The Asia Rugby Division titles up for grabs and the opportunity to rise through the divisions to be ranked from Asia, with the chance of competing against some of the top teams in the world is more achievable in this format.
However, the powerhouses of Asian rugby: Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea will not be easy to displace and will be the most likely teams to feature in the Rest of the world conference Division 2 or 3 from Asia. However, this seems like a real pathway to high-class international rugby.
It also means organizations like Asia Rugby need to do a much-improved job, working with the federations and setting a clear calendar and schedule of games leading up to 2022 when the Nations Championship debuts.
RugbyAsia247 will keep you updated on this story.