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Six Nations unions discuss pooling broadcast rights in threat to world league

The Six Nations unions are in advanced discussions about a proposal to pool the broadcasting rights for Test rugby in Europe, a move that would scupper plans for a world rugby league.

The Telegraph reports that the secret plan proposes bundling the broadcasting rights of the home fixtures of each union across the year, including Six Nations and autumn internationals, to increase their value.

If the unions agree to it, the plan would effectively end World Rugby’s ambitions for a Nations Championship featuring the top northern and southern hemisphere sides, discussed at a meeting in Los Angeles last month. The latter plan also calls for the European unions to bundle their broadcast rights, but this time with the addition of the southern hemisphere nations, to increase their value.

In an interview with SportBusiness Professional ahead of the Six Nations, Ben Morel, the new chief executive of the competition, indicated he was looking to create more continuity between the Six Nations Championship, which takes place between February and March, and the Autumn Internationals featuring the same six unions. Currently the rights to the Autumn Internationals are sold on an individual basis, which is thought to undermine their value.

“I think that we can do a better job at presenting the opportunity to our broadcast partners, as well as to our fans,” said Morel. “There are too many games overlapping and I am a strong believer in simplicity of narrative and product definition.

“There are great storylines between the Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations that we can actually present a better product to the marketplace.”

The latest proposal to pool the European broadcast rights is not understood to include the rights for the British and Irish Lions tours, which are currently sold by the host nation in the southern hemisphere.

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