To help the development of second-tier rugby union-playing nations, rugby union’s world governing body hosted a workshop in London last week to discuss plans for launching a new global competition for emerging national teams in 2021.
The meeting was arranged in light of the strong showing of emerging nations at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and because of the collapse of its Nations Championship concept last year.
The key outcome from the meeting was to explore a competition model that will bring greater context and structure to the international calendar for emerging nations who don’t currently play in the two major annual national team competitions – Europe’s Six Nations and the southern hemisphere’s The Rugby Championship.
World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “Enhancing competition opportunity, meaning and competitiveness for our unions outside of the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship is critical to the future growth, prosperity and sustainability of the global game.
“We must evolve and examine both opportunities and challenges from the fans and the marketplace’s perspectives, and not solely the performance imperative.
“It was great to see so much buy-in from the high-performance personnel, coaches, players and chief executives – all agreed that meaningful change is required.
“This hugely productive and positive meeting demonstrated the collective alignment and excitement across the game to achieve something special that will truly enable us to better support and sustain the needs of our unions, driving a more competitive global game and Rugby World Cup, which is great for unions, players, fans, broadcasters and commercial partners.”
The outcomes of the workshop will be presented to the World Rugby Regional Rugby Committee and Executive Committees in March with a view to accelerating focused consultation ahead of a preferred model being considered by the World Rugby Council in May.
The workshop was attended by members of World Rugby and high performance and coaching personnel from nations including Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, Uruguay, and the USA, alongside representatives from all six World Rugby regions, SANZAAR, Six Nations and International Rugby Players.