CAPE TOWN – Rugby-playing countries need to take a stand against the proposed Nations League, and not just because England don’t seem to be all for it.
World Rugby recently made their plans of a multi-tiered global tournament public in an attempt to revolutionise the sport.
It would include twelve countries playing matches across a calendar year, ending in a final, before the league’s last-placed team would play the winner of the second-tier competition in a promotion-relegation decider.
Players like Kieran Read, Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell have raised their concerns over player welfare.
And apart from the fact that international players would simply be playing too much rugby should the concept materialise, there’s also other factors to consider.
While it’s surely the financial gains that have World Rugby so keen, they also have to consider the impact it would have on rugby’s cash cow, the World Cup.
The governing body, together with financial supporters Infront - a Swiss marketing company - reckon the league will generate £5 billion over 12 years and that each union would be richer, even if relegated.
But surely the World Cup will lose some of its glow if rugby’s heavyweights bash each other year in and year out? And it could also take away from the anticipation and quality of Six Nations and Rugby Championship matches.
Again, that’s just one concern. Or at least it should be.
You don’t need to see the fine print to get why some of the sport’s biggest stars have said 'nay' to the proposed tournament.
The relegation aspect has been the key sticking point, with the Rugby Football Union particularly concerned with player release and welfare.
Of course, should England decide to change their mind and vote yes, it’s likely that the other Six Nations countries will follow suit.
And if World Rugby have England’s vote, they might just push harder...you know, England’s voice has always mattered, a lot.
According to dailymail.co.uk, an initial deadline for unions to submit letters to World Rugby consenting to a “period of due diligence” was set for last Friday.
Seems like that didn’t go as planned.
The real deadline, however, has been set for 21 May, the day of World Rugby’s next council meeting, and if unions don’t sign by then, the League could be postponed until 2029, with unions then having to sign up to new long-lasting broadcast deals.
Players have taken the first step in standing up to a concept that seems to prioritise nothing but financial gain, now it’s up to the rugby unions to do the rest.@WynonaLouw