Lawes reviews England's Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to South Africa
World Rugby’s new Nations Championship has been given the green light by narrow margins at a council vote in Paris. The new competition, which has previously been dubbed “the death of rugby,” needed a 75 per cent majority to pass and did so with the ballot voting 41 to 10 in favour of its formation.
According to the Daily Mail, the Test rugby tournament will start in 2026 and is expected to take place every two years with a northern versus southern hemisphere grand final. Teams from the southern hemisphere, including Fiji will host three northern hemisphere sides, such as Japan, in the July Test window, before travelling north in the November window.
The top teams from each pool will then square off for the title. However, there are serious concerns that there will be no system of promotion and relegation until at least 2030.
The president of Rugby South America, Sebastian Pineyrua, believes the concept will lead to “the death of rugby” on the international stage – including the Rugby World Cup – with lower-ranking nations left out to dry. “It’s the death of rugby,” he told the Mail. “It will kill rugby. It will be impossible to compete with those teams in four or five years. They’re going to go up and the others will go down.”
Meanwhile, former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot has made it clear that he is staunchly against the lack of manoeuvrability between pools. Tier two countries ranked 13 to 24 in the world will compete in a Challenger Series but will be stuck there for at least four years while higher-ranking nations lavish in the top pools.
“The game I love has to be much bigger,” Pichot said. “One idea was the global season, but they twisted it and they made it a closed shop. Again.”
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When asked about the promotion and relegation system, he added: “Of what? Is the Six Nations going to be touched? No. SANZAAR (Southern Hemisphere unions) talk about expanding, but how do I give Uruguay a pathway to the Rugby Championship in the next 10 years?
“Let’s be clear: this spin-off of my idea is not a global game. It is just a closed shop for six years. We will vote against it. But this is the mad thing, even the Georgia guys will vote for it. Rugby Europe will vote for it. But they get nothing! I don’t know why they would vote for it.”
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