World Rugby’s vice chairman Agustin Pichot has proposed a “World League” tournament in an aim to promote a global calendar for Test rugby and shake up the yearly test schedule which seems to be decreasing in popularity.
While World Rugby officials have been guarded when speaking on the topic (who will be officially addressed on Wednesday), Pichot voiced the idea in speaking to French publication Midi Olympique.
The proposed concept suggests ending the various June test series and November tours, and instead setting up a 12 team tournament which would effectively end up seeing the best of the North play the best of the South, every year.
Pichot proposed that the top 12-ranked countries contest an annual tournament alternating between a different place in the North and the South each year.
The teams would divide into three groups of four, with three pool matches, followed by semi-finals and the final. Each pool would be hosted by a different country.
Pichot has reportedly already pitched his idea to Steve Tew, Bernard Laporte and Jurie Roux. New Zealand, France and South Africa’s respective rugby bosses.
World Rugby’s chief executive Brett Gosper, in speaking of an effort to grow test rugby globaly said:
“At the moment 56 per cent of the games in international rugby in the world are friendlies and that’s what we’re looking at and maybe swinging it back towards more meaningful, competitive games and that may be even with interaction between north and south.”
“There’s a number of models out there but I think ultimately (a north vs south competition) would help add more meaning to a Six Nations or a (Rugby) Championship so it could only be good news for everyone.”
Pichot’s proposal comes following a heated interview earlier this month, whereby he declared that test rugby was “under threat”
“If you ask me as a businessman, the business side of it is not working,” he said in speaking to The Guardian.
“If you ask me as the playing side, it’s not working. Is the international game under threat? I think it is. Look at the balance sheets of some nations and you can see exactly where we stand.”