The chief executives of all tier-one and tier-two rugby union nations will meet in Los Angeles today to discuss plans for a rugby world league that could impact on both the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is reportedly leading presentations for the new plan which proposes bringing the Autumn Internationals, summer tours, the Six Nations and the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship together into one annual league.
The “League of Nations” proposal is designed to bring more money into the international game and help southern hemisphere nations that are struggling financially. Some reports have suggested the leading nations are being offered between £5m (€5.8m/6.7m) and £10m to sign up to the new tournament.
The Times reports that the plans would be for competing nations to play one another once a year with a semi- final and a final before Christmas. They would also call for a five-week window for the competition in November which would put the new tournament at loggerheads with national club competitions.
World Rugby is believed to be working with commercial sales agency TRM to sell the concept to broadcasters rather than offer a stake in the new business to an investor.
For nations to proceed with the new proposals, they will have to be persuaded that that they can make more money than they currently do from existing tournament formats. The new annual competition could devalue the quadrennial Rugby World Cup which generates the lion’s share of World Rugby’s revenues. Equally, home nations competing in the Six Nations, the most successful international tournament outside of the World Cup, will have to decide if the event would be diminished if it feeds into a bigger competition.
The new Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel is due to attend the meeting and is expected to announce his position after it takes place.
The media-rights value of the Six Nations is dominated by those nations that compete in the tournament: France, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy. The UK and France remain the two most lucrative markets for the Rugby World Cup media rights.