Nations Cup back on agenda: Beaumont

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has revived the Nations Cup concept, saying that it could be played in consecutive windows.

Beaumont, who was elected for a second four-year term last week, said while plans were still in the "embryo" stages, there was arguments for moving the current July and November windows to allow consecutive periods of Test rugby.

Under the previous proposal, the Six Nations and Rugby Championship windows would serve as preliminary stages of the tournament with a finals structure to be played in the November window. 

The SANZAAR nations had been broadly supportive of the proposal, including the prospect of expanding the Rugby Championship to allow the inclusion of Japan and Fiji and the idea of promotion-relegation.

Plans for a Nations Championship had previously been scuppered with Six Nations teams protesting the possibility of promotion-relegation.

Beaumont said on Sunday there was no reason or appetite to move current Six Nations window but that he felt there was appetite for a level of change among those countries.

Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as World Rugby chairman. Photo: Getty Images"My job is to get hopefully consensus from everyone in the game," he said.

"I do think there is an appetite from the Six Nations to look at a Nations Cup.

"I think certainly I haven't had any discussions (about moving the window), nobody's mentioned the Six Nations would move the timescale but what would move would be the July and November window.

"Why would you move the Six Nations?

"The Six Nations is owned by the Six Nations and has been going for 150-odd years. Certainly that would not be the intention currently. It is not affecting anyone else’s window on the global calendar."

The former England international was quick to say that any plans were still in the "embryo" stage of conception.

"These are very much in the embryo stage at the moment," he said.

"What has stimulated the debate is the position regarding this year where we do not know when any games will take place, we just don't know.

"The north could go south one month and immediately afterwards the south could come north next month, bearing in mind we would have to take all stakeholders with us.

"In the north we have to take the club game with you, we have to take the European game with us. We are in dialogue with all the stakeholders.

"There could be a competition between all the countries that play in those two windows.

"Sitting below that a subsidiary competition that involves all the emerging nations, another competition and you could well have promotion-relegation in that."

Beaumont said player welfare would be considered a high priority in any plans moving forward, with the workload of potentially playing a string of Tests together.