Faced with the realization top players are heading out for bigger dollars in the Northern Hemisphere, Rugby Australia is seeking avenues to infuse cash back into Aussie rugby. The effects of a diminishing product are causing fans to seek other alternatives for their sports entertainment dollars.
When news leaked that World Rugby was playing around with the idea of a year-end championship game or tournament to determine Rugby bragging rights for the year, some of leaked information was misleading. Before things spun out of control, World Rugby bosses decided to convene in Dublin to share information about its new Nations Championship Concept.
After the meeting was concluded, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle left the meeting inspired by the prospects of Rugby Australia getting a significant amount of the proposed $A9.3 billion World Rugby would get over 12 years for participating in a Nations Championship Tournament.
After disclosing the concept, it became clear World Rugby sees this concept as a work in progress. The concept would involve the Six Nations winner facing off against the top team from an expanded, six-team Rugby Championship at the end of the Rugby year. During the meeting, leaders disclosed plans to use a three-division format that would include a system of promotion and relegation. The Nations Championship would be backed by a record commercial partnership with sports market company Infront with said company guaranteeing nearly $9.3 billion in revenues from both media and marketing rights.
The good news is there’s no provision for selling off equity in the competition, which means World Rugby and its leaders would retain control over the competition and the redistribution of revenues to the unions.
While no agreement was reached during the Dublin meeting, the powers tto be made clear they would like to have something in writing prior to its next meeting in May. It appears France has already thrown its support behind the concept.
On behalf of Rugby Australia, Castle stated, ““The proposal put forward by World Rugby for the Nations Championship has the potential to deliver a great product for fans and significant commercial benefit for Australia and the game globally, including opportunities for emerging nations.”
She went on to add, “We commend World Rugby on the work they have done in developing a strong proposal and we remain committed to working towards an outcome that can tick each of those boxes. These are exciting but complex discussions which require us to strike a balance between doing what’s best for fans, Australian Rugby as well as the global game, and the players. We will now continue the conversation with our member unions and RUPA before reverting back to World Rugby on our position ahead of the next round of discussions.”
In response to positive feedback from the meeting, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “There was strong recognition that World Rugby’s Nations Championship proposal, based on a true pathway for all, has been developed with great care, extensive evaluation and with the global game at the forefront of our thinking. We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well received.”