‘Nations Championship an opportunity lost’ – SANZAAR

SANZAAR have expressed their disappointment that World Rugby missed a “golden opportunity” for the game by ending plans for a Nations Championship.

Rugby union chiefs wanted to launch a new cross-hemisphere Nations Championship from 2022, in which the first and second-placed sides of Europe’s Six Nations would face off against the two countries at top of an expanded, six-team southern hemisphere Rugby Championship in end of year semi-finals and subsequent final.

The SANZAAR member Unions – Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – despite having some concerns over elements of what was presented, most notably promotion/relegation, had all signed the Offer Letters to enter into the next phase of due diligence with the aim of working through the concerns with all interested parties.

SANZAAR Chairman Brent Impey said via a press statement that he was “disappointed” by the news.

“The Nations Championship was a golden opportunity to grow the game internationally but is seemingly lost. SANZAAR remains convinced that such a revamped international calendar is the right course of action supported by professional cross-border competitions such as Super Rugby and the various European premierships,” the statement read.

“All SANZAAR Unions signed the letter of offer with World Rugby to continue negotiations. SANZAAR has been consistent in its support of the concept as we believed that this was an important decision for the future of the world game.

“Furthermore, the ability to have promotion/relegation in both hemispheres as proposed by World Rugby is a principle position with which SANZAAR agreed. That would have created a meaningful pathway and aspirations for emerging nations.

“While World Rugby has led discussions around the Nations Championship concept, SANZAAR and its member unions, have been in constant and positive dialogue with our broadcast partners to secure the future of Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship.”