Australia's best Super Rugby players might not be eligible to play in the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship after organisers were forced to change the playing dates of the new competition.
Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest initially planned for the IPRC to run after the Super Rugby season from August to October.
But he had to switch the playing window to the March-June period because of seasonal weather conditions in Asia.
The IPRC will now launch in 2019, instead of next year.
But despite moving to a timeslot where Super Rugby is also played, the IPRC appears set to be given the tick of approval from Rugby Australia.Nothing has been signed off as yet, but the IPRC released a statement on Sunday saying it had formed consensus with RA around a host of core principles surrounding the new competition.
However, RA will only support the new competition if it doesn't affect the integrity of Super Rugby.
As part of that integrity, RA's Wallabies eligibility policy remains in place.
It means Australia's best Super Rugby players probably won't be able to play in the IPRC if they want to remain eligible for the national side.
Some of Australia's best players are currently plying their trade overseas, and a major goal of the IPRC is to lure those players home.
Those returning players could be made eligible for Wallabies selection if they play for the IPRC's only Australian team - the Western Force.The other five teams for the inaugural season are yet to be decided, but places like China, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul are all in the running.
Forrest plans to present his IPRC vision at a World Rugby board meeting on November 14.
"This is a transformative day for the players and the fans of Rugby in the Indo Pacific region," Forrest said.
"I am so proud to have reached this position where we have aligned with Rugby Australia on some core principles and a path forward."
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper welcomed the progress of negotiations between RA and the IPRC.
"World Rugby is supportive of the IPRC's objective to further help grow the game of rugby throughout the Indo Pacific region," Gosper said.
CORE PRINCIPLES AGREED UPON BETWEEN IPRC and RA (subject to World Rugby approval)
*IPRC has agreed to play in a March to June competition window. This window was chosen as it represents the best opportunity to play Rugby in Asia (seasonal considerations). The window was recommended on the provision that it does not negatively impact on Super Rugby or Asia Rugby's international competitions
*A full launch of the IPRC is scheduled for 2019.
*The integrity of the Super Rugby competition will be maintained.
*IPRC will work with Rugby Australia to repatriate players who have been lost overseas, to join the Western Australian team.
*Rugby Australia's Wallabies eligibility policy remains in place, with further consideration to be given to allowing players in the Western Australian team to be eligible for the Wallabies.
*IPRC and Rugby Australia will consider what additional resources are required to support and supplement Rugby Australia's elite pathway, including retention of key Wallabies in Super Rugby, the National Rugby Championship, club competitions and community programs for the benefit of Australian Rugby
*IPRC and SANZAAR to undertake further consultation with regards to competition management and operations.
*IPRC, Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby high-performance teams to explore the possibility of "sister-club" arrangements to support player/coach and match official development.