Rugby’s World League takes a step closer as more details hit the news

After weeks of discussion and speculation, World Rugby’s proposal of an international World League has taken another step forward as more details have made their way into the public domain.

It’s been reported that while the Six Nations would remain unchanged, The Rugby Championship which currently features four Southern Hemisphere teams would be increased to six with the addition of Japan and the USA. The two groups of six would then play each other in a separate World League where each nation would play each other once before a final stage later in the year.

It’s a move that’s gained criticism from some players within the game, such as Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and England’s Owen Farrell, who highlight issues surrounding player welfare.

It has been reported in New Zealand that the league could see the international rugby calendar extend into early December to allow for each of the 12 teams to play each other once throughout the calendar year before a final is hosted in a European or American city.

The issues around the calendar are combined with concerns about travel distances, meaning that even though teams could play fewer games, they would still travel more miles.

There are also concerns that – with no promotion or relegation – tier two nations such as Georgia, Russia and the Pacific Island nations would be locked out of competing, at least for the foreseeable future.

But, with the promise for up to £7m to be made by each country every year, those in charge can see an opportunity to grow the sport, especially given the plans to grow the game worldwide in the wake of this year’s World Cup and next summer’s Olympic Games, featuring the 7s format of the game.

It remains to be seen if the competition in this format will take place from 2020 as proposed, but it’s clear that rugby in on the verge of some major changes and given the opportunities that the next 12-18 months present, it will be crucial to get them right.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 813 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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