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Rugby Nations Championship could face club legal challenge

World Rugby’s plans for a Nations Championship featuring the top international teams could expose it to a legal challenge from club sides in England and France, The Times reports.

The international governing body for rugby union convened a meeting in Los Angeles earlier this week to discuss the proposals for the global league which would pit the world’s top 12 countries against each other in a series of fixtures across the year.

But the leading clubs in England and France are likely to claim that the five-week run for the competition in November would breach the San Francisco Agreement covering the rugby calendar. The latter pact stipulates that the autumn international window should be limited to the first three weeks in November.

“If it looks like it [the Nations Championship] is going to need five weeks in November, that may well be an issue,” ex-Harlequins chief executive and Saracens director of rugby Mark Evans told SportBusiness. “Other than that, I don’t see that it cuts across the current windows.”

Although proposals for a series of three summer fixtures between northern and southern hemisphere teams would not generate any additional matches for international teams (summer tours usually consist of three matches against the same side) he felt the amount of travel involved would place an additional strain on players.

“I think there will be some player welfare issue – playing three tests in three different countries in the southern hemisphere in June could be a problem.”