In a constantly evolving landscape that promises to shape the global game one way or the other, World Rugby has found a money tree which it hopes will be enough to sway support for the Nations Championship concept.

Yesterday World Rugby's proposal seemed destined to fail after private equity company CVC Capital Partners picked an opportune time to table a staggering £500m (NZD$963m) offer for a 30 per cent stake in the Six Nations, the jewel of Northern Hemisphere rugby.

Such an agreement would kill the Nations Championship, and drive wedge between the Six Nations powers and the rest of the world.

Today, though, after high-powered meetings in Dublin, World Rugby announced a proposed multi-billion pound investment deal that could yet save their proposal.


A statement from World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont read: "At the meeting of unions, competition owners and international player representatives, World Rugby outlined details of a game-changing competition model that delivers a true pathway for all unions through a three-division format and a system of promotion and relegation.

"The proposed format would be underpinned by a record commercial partnership with leading global sports marketing company Infront, guaranteeing almost £5billion [NZD$9.7b] for investment in the sport over an initial 12-year period (of which more than £1.5b [NZD$2.9b] is guaranteed incremental revenue for the world game).

"The proposed business model covers both media and marketing rights but does not include any sale of equity in the competition and therefore full control of the competition and its revenue redistribution model would be retained by the unions, the current major competitions and World Rugby."

Suggestions of up to £100-130 million per union over the 12-year period is in line with the previously touted £5m ($NZ9.6m) to £10m ($19.2m) annual boost from the global league plans.

In terms of World Rugby's proposed partner, Switzerland-based Infront has 1000 staff in 14 countries; their president and chief executive is Philippe Blatter, nephew of scandal-hit football boss Sepp. Infront's parent company is China's Dalian Wanda group.

TJ Perenara of the All Blacks leads the haka during the International Rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Italy at Stadio Olimpico on November 24, 2018. Photo / Getty Images.
TJ Perenara of the All Blacks leads the haka during the International Rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Italy at Stadio Olimpico on November 24, 2018. Photo / Getty Images.

Of the Six Nations unions, France announced its support for the Nations Championship. FFR boss Bernard Laporte said: "France believes in this concept for the good of the game globally."

Wales are also believed to be on board but Ireland and Scotland, it has been suggested, both oppose the essential promotion relegation component.

World Rugby confirmed the semifinal stage of the cross-hemisphere proposal had been ditched which would mean a maximum of 12 tests per year for the two finalists – 11 for the others.


There was also a pledge to invest in a women's Nations Championship to "accelerate the global competitiveness of the game".

"There was strong recognition that World Rugby's Nations Championship proposal, based on a true pathway for all, has been developed with great care, extensive evaluation and with the global game at the forefront of our thinking," Beaumont said.

"We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received. Everyone, not just the established teams, will benefit, accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game.

"However, as you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation.

"This is a pivotal time for the game, and we will continue to engage and consult, but only by keeping the best interests of the global game at heart will we be able to achieve something truly impactful for the future success and sustainability of the game."

For now, the Nations Championship lives to fight another day.

Whether this is a stay of execution or move towards a more sustainable future still hinges on the Six Nations ability to consider the interests of others.

In a statement, South African Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux echoed the thoughts of most southern nations who are clinging to the concept as a means of generating revenue which could safeguard the game.

"Creating a meaningful season-long competition out of the current patchwork of events and tournaments has an obvious appeal as well as proving a clear development pathway for emerging nations, which speaks directly to one of the fundamental goals of World Rugby," Roux said.

"It would also create new and potentially lucrative opportunities for the sport as well as a single point of purchase for existing and new broadcasting players. But there are a number of due diligences to be performed and questions to be answered before anything can come to fruition."