Analysis

World Rugby: Fiji Still Part Of Plans

World Rugby has insisted promo­tion and relegation will be a part of its proposed new world league despite opposition within the Six Nations.
09 Mar 2019 15:20
World Rugby: Fiji Still Part Of Plans

World Rugby has confirmed that Fiji is not being ex­cluded but along with Japan they could be added to the Rugby Championship.

World Rugby has insisted promo­tion and relegation will be a part of its proposed new world league despite opposition within the Six Nations.

World Rugby came under con­siderable fire last week after reports that its Nations Cham­pionship would feature the Six Nations and the Rugby Champi­onship sides, as well as the USA and Japan.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, World Rugby clearly addressed recent media specula­tions about the USA ‘leapfrog­ging’ Fiji into the competition.

The statement revealed its original proposal – made to the relevant unions last September – which includes relegation from both the Six Nations and a six-team Rugby Championship, also featuring Japan and Fiji (the next two highest teams in the world rankings), referred to as the Rest of the World.

Under the proposal the competi­tion would start in 2022, be held in its full form every two years– but not in World Cup years– and a trun­cated version in British & Irish Li­ons years. One team from the Six Nations and one from the Rest of the World would face relegation each time the competition is played in full, or every two years.

DUBLIN MEETING

World Rugby’s decision to go pub­lic comes before the emergency meeting next week in Dublin– called by the governing body’s chairman, Bill Beaumont- where representatives from all tier one nations, as well as Japan and Fiji, will be present.

The Fiji Rugby Union will be represented by chairman Francis Kean and chief executive officer John O’Connor where they are go­ing to debate, discuss and deal with the concept on key issues such as the promotion and relegation.

Support for World Rugby’s Sep­tember proposal is far from unani­mous– leading to a number of dif­ferent suggestions including that which leaked last week– with pro­motion and relegation the main stumbling block. It remains to be seen if and how it can be overcome at next week’s meeting.

“Contrary to reports our pro­posed competition provides oppor­tunities for all teams to compete at the top level on merit, with promo­tion and relegation,” read World Rugby’s statement.

“Under this model, the Pacific Islands and all teams outside the current Six Nations and the Rugby Championship would have a poten­tial pathway.

“With the proposed model incor­porating competitions that are not owned or run by World Rugby, not all unions are presently in favour of immediate promotion and rele­gation. We continue to consider the feedback, but remain absolutely committed to an eventual pathway for all.”

BENEFITS

If this concept is approved, and moves ahead, and assuming the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians main­tain their status in world rankings, it is a ‘game-changer’ for Fiji Rug­by, which would see our Flying Fi­jians play 11 tests annually against Tier 1 teams.

Not only will it provide much stronger matches for our play­ers, but it would also deliver Fiji 4 to 5 high quality domestic tests against Tier 1 nations annually, so it is incredibly exciting, with mas­sive implications and opportunity for Rugby in Fiji.

PLAYERS’ CONCERNS

World Rugby is also seeking to address the players’ concerns and will meet the International Rugby Players Council, of which Farrell and Johnny Sexton are members, on Monday.

The council has also said it will convene again next week to discuss World Rugby’s latest proposals.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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