Ryan Giggs takes his Welsh team to Dublin next week for a UEFA Nations League tie against the Republic of Ireland – and it might not be long before the Welsh rugby team are doing something similar.
At the World Rugby Council meeting in Sydney last week there was clear backing for an Agustin Pichot proposal to introduce a 12 team ‘League of Nations’ tournament along similar lines
Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby, said the governing body is supporting the plan, which is aimed at boosting revenues generated by the international game, providing it passes a feasibility study.
“It just makes sense and it would seem to be the time to do this. There is a consensus and a desire to try,” Gosper told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
The plan would see a 12-team annual competition take place in non-World Cup years, with the top six teams from the northern and southern hemispheres all playing each other. They would form a 12-nation league, with the top four teams entering an elimination phase to find an annual champion.
The fixtures in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship and north’s Six Nations would serve as the first leg of the competition. The second leg between northern and southern teams would take place in the existing July and November windows, replacing the three-Test tours that are now commonplace.
“The team coming South would have to play three different teams, but it’s making sure each game counts towards an end that is more interesting to the fans. It makes it a more viable product,” added Gosper.
The idea is the brainchild of World Rugby vice-chairman Pichot, of Argentina, and it could start as early as 2020, post World Cup in Japan. There would be a second-tier competition in which Tier 2 nations would fight to earn promotion to the top 12.