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Six Nations CEO Morel says relegation “not on the agenda”

The new Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel has said the championships are unlikely to introduce promotion and relegation, dealing a blow to World Rugby’s plans for a Nations Championship.

Morel joined other rugby stakeholders in Los Angeles on Monday to listen to the international governing body’s plans for the new global league which proposes pitting teams from the northern and southern hemisphere against each other.

Under the proposals, the Six Nations would represent the top-tier of two divisions in the northern hemisphere and act as a qualifier event for a series of games in the summer and autumn against teams from the southern hemisphere. A Rugby Championship, contested by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa but expanded to include Japan and Fiji, would provide their opposition.

World Rugby would like to include relegation between the divisions to give lower-tier nations more opportunities to play top-tier rugby, but Morel is unwilling to upset the current order.

“There will be no relegation mechanism. It is not on the agenda,” Morel said. “It is clear that any adaptations [to the global calendar] will need to be a substantial improvement on the current set-up, which is successful, as the latest autumn series can attest.”

It is also believed the Six Nations commitment to free-to-air coverage could provide a sticking point in World Rugby’s attempts to secure a commanding rights fee for the new global league.

In an interview with SportBusiness that took place ahead of the Los Angeles meeting, Morel said: “The DNA of the Six Nations, as well as the commercial revenue that it brings to the unions, is all linked to the eyeballs we’re getting. We are a unique property, based on scarcity and meaningfulness of the games. It’s easy to access and watch and that makes it a very valuable proposition.”