The biggest revolution in the history of professional rugby. The World Cup actually takes place every year

In countries where rugby is popular, the press is calling the idea of ​​introducing a new world-class tournament the biggest revolution in the sport since the introduction of professionalism in 1995.

Rugby World is working on a new world tournament

The new world tournament doesn’t even have a formal name yet and probably won’t be voted on until November at Rugby World’s general meeting, but The Times is already leaking that an agreement has been reached and new matches are on the calendar from 2024. First in the form of a tournament for B-teams, then – when the previous obligations have ended – in 2026 all the best players.

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The tournament, tentatively called the National Championship, will always end on the fourth weekend of November, when a nice final is played and two games remain with the elite. The competition will take the form of two competitions, from which the worst teams will be relegated. This is a move towards the so-called emerging countries who torpedoed an attempt three years ago to organize a kind of rugby super competition, in which only the teams of the countries with the greatest rugby traditions were allowed to play: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Argentina and Italy.

However, it has now been recognized that other teams deserve to try and join the elite. So Fidi and Japan were added to the top ten. And this is what the first competition will look like in 2026.

Tournament in competition format North-South

The events calendar will be very original. The initiators want to use the traditional terms in which the national teams call the so-called test matches. They could be called friendly matches, but this would lead to unnecessary associations with friendly matches in football, which are basically sparring matches. In rugby, friendlies have a long tradition and are much more respected than friendly football matches.

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In rugby, June usually saw teams from Europe head to the Antipodes to play against Australia and New Zealand, possibly featuring the Maori, Fidi and Western Samoa national teams. November, on the other hand, was sometimes a return visit. These performances from the southern sphere have been brought to Europe to fight the North-South rugby war here. And this tradition of the founder of the National Championships wants to be preserved. In June, six teams from Europe will play three matches in the southern atmosphere, in November there will be a return visit and the non-European six will play three matches in Europe. Japan, although located in the Northern Hemisphere, will represent the South.

After six rounds, two finalists will be selected – the teams with the highest number of points after six games in one table – who will play for the undisclosed trophy, and the two worst teams – one from the north and the other from the south, will play a bet to stay with the elite. The promoters hope that this latest match will be an opportunity to promote rugby in places where it is less popular. For example, the finals could be held in the US or Hong Kong.

Emerging countries get a chance to be promoted to the elite

For promotion to the elite will be gray, the so-called emerging nations. Samoa, Tonga, USA, Canada, Uruguay, Chile, Namibia, Georgia, Romania, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands were invited to the first tournament called the Challenger Division.

The National Championships are held every two years – in even years. Odd are reserved for already valid events. The first is the World Cup, which has so far been held every four years. The next will take place from September 8 to October 28, 2023 in France. Traditionally, there is also a tour of the British and Irish Lives in the Southern Hemisphere every four years. In 2021, a rugby team from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland will play in South Africa. In 2025 the Lions will go to Australia. Such a tour always lasts well over a month, and during this time the guests play 8-10 matches, three of which are the main ones with the national team.

Income is at stake, although the matches will be the same as now

The reformatted rugby calendar is expected to increase the sport’s revenues by 40 percent, although the burden on players will remain much the same. The dates on which the Nations Championship matches are still held were reserved for matches of the national teams.

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The position of previous continental tournaments, such as the Six Nations Tournament, which is held annually in the spring with the participation of: England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy, or intercontinental tournaments, such as the traditional championship (The Championship) played with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, will remain unwavering.

Most importantly for World Rugby, the idea of ​​calendar reform is accepted by both clubs and players affiliated with the International Rugby Union (IRP). “The model that is now on the table is the best for all parties,” former New Zealand Representative Conrad Smith told The Times. – In addition to fighting for the well-being of the players, the IRP has always tried to get a fair offer to emerging countries so that they would have the opportunity to compete regularly in the international arena. This solution gives these teams a chance to become more competitive.

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