Agustin Pichot is an Argentinian rugby legend, whose efforts in the 2007 World Cup helped his nation achieve third place.
Following his retirement, Pichot became a member of the UAR (Argentinian rugby union) council, bringing the country into the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby.
More recently, Pichot was appointed vice-chair of World Rugby, helping introduce a minimum five-year residency period for foreign player eligibility.
It’s evident Pichot has an interest in homegrown talent to build national teams, could this be the underlying motive for his National Championship (aka World League) proposition?
In February 2019, information about a World League leaked, with the possibility of restricting Pacific Island nations’ participation.
Pichot and World Rugby clarified there would be a 12 and 12 league, which permitted promotion and relegation, with Fiji and Japan likely to enter the Rugby Championship.
There may be economic motives behind the new league, but it is hard to ignore Pichot’s effect on the growth of rugby in Argentina and now the world. If rugby is to be sustainable globally, an increase in tier 2 competitiveness is required – similar to how Argentina was developed.
Thus, national unions must be responsible for developing participation and talent domestically.
A World League can force tier 2 nations to increase participation and performances for promotion into the tier 1 league, and these nations will have to maintain or increase standards to prevent relegation.
Former Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan supported the concept of the championship as “a truly progressive move that will help Fiji and others hugely”.
Agustin Pichot has the capability to nurture rugby globally and could increase rugby’s popularity, participation and relevance globally.