Your guide to the World Rugby's proposed Nations Championship and why not all nations are on board.
What is it?
The Nations Championship is a proposed tournament that would include 12 teams from the Northern and Southern hemisphere in a global competition. From the North, those that comprise the Six Nations – Italy, Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland and France – and in the South, the Rugby Championship – New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and South Africa. Two more teams would be added to the Rugby Championship to fill out the draw – expected to be Japan and the United States.
Essentially the new format will require all 12 nations to play each other once in the calendar year, with a semi-final and final to be played in late November, possibly early December.
Initial reports suggested there would be no inclusion of a promotion-relegation system for other nations to play their way into the tournament; however World Rugby has since stated their intention to explore this option.
Why the change?
It's something new, more marketable and would see more matches between the top teams in each hemisphere. World Rugby's proposal comes with the promise of £7.5 million (NZD$14.6m) in additional annual revenue per-union, thanks to an investment pledge of £5 billion (NZD$9.7b) over 12 years from global sports marketing company Infront. World Rugby have also suggested a potential parachute payment to any relegated union.
When would it start?
Early reports suggested the competition was targeted for a 2020 debut. However, with issues arising around the format of the competition and how lower-tier nations could get involved, it is likely that timeframe was a bit optimistic.
Which nations are opposed?
England has come out in strong opposition of the competition, with the Rugby Football Union saying relegation from the Six Nations would be "catastrophic". The Six Nations powers are opposed to any sort of promotion-relegation set up that could see them lose their spot in the Six Nations.
Ireland, Scotland and Italy want no part of the promotion-relegation concept. Wales are open minded and France are on board.
On the other side of that, South American Rugby boss Sebastián Piñeyrúa has been outspoken in the need for a pathway for lesser tier nations to be able to have the opportunity to compete against the top teams in the world.
What would it mean for the All Blacks?
For the players, it would be a much busier schedule. A longer Rugby Championship, with matches against the Northern Hemisphere teams as well, teams would be spending much more time representing their countries. For New Zealand Rugby, it would mean a much needed consistent, and lucrative, pay day.
What would it mean for fans?
More games would mean more opportunities for fans to get a glimpse of other teams from around the world. Fans wouldn't have to wait a couple of years to see the likes of the All Blacks and Ireland face each other. These matches do seem to be the most anticipated though, so perhaps having them more regularly would have the danger of taking some of the excitement away.