World Rugby responds to World League controversy with statement and explainer video
Last Updated: 06/03/19 4:08pm
World Rugby released a statement and accompanying video on Wednesday to clarify their position on the proposed World League, which caused controversy in several quarters last week.
Details of a new 'Nations Championship' concept comprising of a yearly competition between 12 teams from the two hemispheres starting in 2020 circulated last Thursday, with World Rugby facing a backlash in response.
Almost 40 players, including England's Owen Farrell, Ireland's Johnny Sexton and New Zealand's Kieran Read, discussed the potential deal and raised the issue around player welfare, long-term quality and integrity of the international game.
Senior players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga then threatened to boycott the 2019 Rugby World Cup over plans for the new 'World League', with former Samoa lock forward Daniel Leo commenting: "This will be Pacific Rugby Disaster 2.0."
Several reports had speculated the competition would be ring-fenced between 12 teams for a decade causing consternation, after-which World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont called for an emergency meeting to discuss the future of the sport.
World Rugby moved on Wednesday to dispute previous reports, detailing plans for promotion and relegation in a comprehensive explainer video which they insist was shown to union CEOs and International Rugby Players back in September 2018.
Further details such as a potential new-look calendar with the Six Nations concluding in April, no relegation or promotion in British & Irish Lions tour years and no tournaments in Rugby World Cup years were also revealed.
"The current rugby broadcast market is complicated, which impairs the overall ability of the game - including players, fans, unions and clubs - to realise its full potential," World Rugby said on Wednesday.
"World Rugby is undertaking this important work on behalf of our unions to secure the long-term growth and stability of the sport in an ever more competitive sports and entertainment environment.
"It is incumbent on World Rugby to champion and represent the whole game, not just the top of the game, and we are committed to working with our union and player representative colleagues to ensure an equitable solution that works for all.
"Change is always difficult, and nobody expected complex multi-stakeholder discussions to be simple, however for a sport to grow and thrive, it must explore ways to innovate and evolve."