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Rugby chiefs shelve major shake-up after unions dig in heels

 

Forward thinking: Bill Beaumont still has big plans
Forward thinking: Bill Beaumont still has big plans

By Robert Jones

World Rugby has scrapped radical plans for a global Nations Championship after failing to gain the required support.

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The governing body needed unanimous support from the 10 unions who currently participate in the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.

"World Rugby can confirm that it has taken the reluctant decision to discontinue plans for the Nations Championship after the required unanimous agreement by unions to enter into exclusive negotiations was not achieved by (yesterday's) deadline," World Rugby said in a statement.

The proposed format would have launched in 2022, with the Six Nations winners facing off with the top team from the southern hemisphere's expanded six-team Rugby Championship.

World Rugby said the Nations Championship had been given a 12-year £6.1bn guarantee from leading sports marketing agency Infront Sports and Media, backed by Hong Kong-based parent company Wanda Sports.

"The core objective of the Nations Championship was to secure a strong and sustainable financial and competition model for unions," added the statement.

The controversial plan has had its opponents ever since it was first floated by World Rugby.

The proposals included creating two-tier tournaments for both the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, including promotion and relegation.

The Six Nations unions have previously shown resistance to promotion and relegation, while leading players criticised World Rugby's lack of engagement over the entire issue back in March.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "World Rugby undertook this important project with the best interests of the global game at heart, in line with our vision to grow the sport as a game for all.

"While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions," added the former England captain.

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