Sport

World Rugby's €5.8b defence of Nations Championship

World Rugby's €5.8b defence of Nations Championship”

Strengthening the Championship's position is the funding raised if a substantial offer for a minority stake from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is accepted.

CVC - who in December acquired a reported 27 percent stake worth more than £200 million ($263 million) in the English Premiership - would enrich each of the six unions to the tune of £100 million according to the BBC.

The offer comes at a critical moment for the sport, as the Six Nations holds talks this week with World Rugby, the sport's worldwide governing body, about joining its proposed 12-team "Nations League" tournament.

Six Nations bosses are understood to be opposed to the idea of promotion and relegation, that underpins World Rugby's Nations Championship concept.

The challenge he faces is convincing the Six Nations unions to abandon Project Light, the pooling of TV rights from the Championship and the autumn Tests to drive up revenue, in favour of the three-tier Nations League.

Their plan is to embrace both their championship and the November Tests - when the southern hemisphere teams come to them - in one broadcast deal. Removing the Six Nations from free-to-air television would likely have a negative impact on participation numbers at grassroots level, causing a knock-on effect at the top level in future.

Sources at the unions have not denied an offer is on the table but insist a deal is not imminent.

The leading French and English professional clubs have hinted at possible legal action if World Rugby proceeds with its proposed plans to restructure the worldwide game.

The proposed Championship would see the formation of two conferences - a European conference and a rest of the world conference - each with two divisions of six teams and a third division comprising 16 teams.

Commitment to work with International Rugby Players and the leading domestic club competitions to optimise the model.

World Rugby insists a majority of teams would play fewer Tests under the proposed new structure which officials believe will lend fresh impetus to the existing worldwide calendar.

But in a joint statement Premiership Rugby of England and their French counterparts, says their clubs feel World Rugby's proposal runs against what was agreed for a long-term vision at a meeting of major stakeholders in San Francisco in 2017.

However, World Rugby clarified these matters last week.

WR chairman Bill Beaumont will host a summit in Dublin overnight, attended by representatives from all tier one countries plus Fiji and Japan, as well as the global players' union.

"Player welfare is fundamental to our sport", it added.

It means that under the proposed new worldwide system, players would play a maximum of 12 Nations Championship matches a year, compared to an average of between 12 and 14 matches now.



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