New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has welcomed developments from World Rugby's talks on the future model for international rugby.
Rugby officials from around the world have met in Dublin overnight discussing the proposed World Rugby Nations Championship concept which now includes a promotion/relegation clause and the initial inclusion of Fiji as the world's 11th ranked nation.
Fiji, and Japan, the 12th ranked nation, will potentially join the Six Nations teams and Rugby Championship teams in a tournament to be played every non-World Cup year.
The interest from a private equity firm in the Six Nations had threatened the concept, but a backer of the World Nations Championship in the form of sports marketing company Infront has boosted the likelihood of the tournament getting under way from 2022.
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One of the major sticking points for New Zealand Rugby and Tew was the lack of a "pathway" for Pacific Islands nations in the initial proposal which was first revealed by the Herald. Under that proposal, the Pacific Islands would be effectively locked out of the tournament for 12 years because of the alleged reluctance of Italy and Scotland to agree to a promotion/relegation clause.
But further developments have eased those concerns for Tew.
"World Rugby has been working very hard on finding a solution that ensures the future growth of the game in New Zealand and around the world, including the Pacific," he said.
"We now have a strong proposal for a World Rugby Nations Championship that we will need to take back to our stakeholders.
"The creation of a new championship, outside of Rugby World Cup years, has been the focus of discussions with World Rugby for several months and the issues are very complex.
"Our challenge has been to find balance between a model that delivers what fans are demanding, with the welfare of all players, growing the commercial strength of our competition and ensuring we are providing a pathway for other nations.
"New Zealand has been a strong advocate for a pathway for Pacific unions and emerging nations.
"The model currently in front of us looks like it could deliver many of the fundamentals we are seeking in a future championship.
"The prospect of new and potentially lucrative opportunities for rugby are exciting and the potential for a single point of purchase for existing and new broadcasters is also interesting."