Beaumont invites Fiji to World League talks

International
AFP
by AFP

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont announced on Sunday he will meet with rugby bosses including officials from Fiji on March 14 to discuss the proposition of a world league.

The world's governing body was widely criticised by players' unions from across the globe for an idea of a potential 12-team league.

Reports claimed that Fiji as well as fellow Pacific Islanders Tonga and Samoa would be excluded but a dozen sides from the Six Nations, the Rugby Championship and Japan and the US would participate.

The reported plan ruled out promotion and relegation for at least 10 seasons, meaning the Pacific Islands' countries as well as other rising nations such as Georgia, would have no chance to win a place later.

A boycott of this year's World Cup was mooted by the London-based Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) on Friday to include even those of Pacific Island origin playing in other teams.

"Contrary to reports, no decisions have been made. This is an ongoing and complex process with multiple stakeholders, some with differing views," Beaumont said in a statement.

"Only by working together in the interests of the global game can we achieve something truly impactful in this important area for rugby's future global growth. I look forward to a constructive debate with my colleagues and productive outcomes," he added.

World Rugby Vice-chairman Augustin Pichot poured cold water on the suggestion the competition would begin after the World Cup.

"Frankly, I don't see how it can be ready for next season," Pichot told French newspaper L'Equipe on Sunday.

"Considering the slowdown in discussion, it's impossible to say how long it will take.

"A format could emerge from the meeting before it is discussed firstly by players at English and French clubs, because they are the two busiest leagues which would have to change. Only then would it all be put to a vote," the former Argentina scrum-half added.

Brett Gosper, the CEO of World Rugby said on Saturday the Pacific Islands would not be excluded but their inclusion would be judged by on-field success alone.

"Participation would be merit-based, based on rankings at an agreed time," the Australian told AFP.

"There is no question of closing out the Pacific Islands as we would be adding two more emerging unions to the top table whilst financing a second tier competition with all the benefits that would bring to the players," he added.

A meeting was already planned but Beaumont added the global players union as well as Fiji and Japan to the list of participants.

The US have not been invited to Dublin.