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Rugby Australia backs global championship

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15th March, 2019
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Rugby Australia has thrown provisional support behind an amended proposal for a global Test championship.

Chief executive Raelene Castle joined her Sanzaar allies in backing the concept of a Nations Championship unveiled in Dublin on Thursday by World Rugby.

The sport’s governing body said the championship would add meaning to the Test calendar outside World Cup year and could inject billions of dollars into rugby.

Its altered structure also addressed previous player concerns over welfare and inclusivity.

Promotion-relegation has been added to the model leaked two weeks ago and criticised by the International Rugby Players Association.

The world’s leading players were united in condemning the lack of a small nations pathway and the fact their concerns over workloads weren’t being heard.

Castle said there were further details to confirm around player welfare and scheduling before the championship received complete RA backing but she was encouraged by the possibilities on offer.

“It has the potential to deliver a great product for fans and significant commercial benefit for Australia and the game globally,” she said in a statement.

“These are exciting but complex discussions which require us to strike a balance between doing what’s best for fans, Australian Rugby as well as the global game, and the players.”

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World Rugby announced a commercial partnership with a leading sports marketing company would inject £5 billion ($A9.4 billion) of investment to the sport over an initial 12 years.

The model would cover both media and marketing rights but not any sale of equity in the competition.

That means control of the competition and its revenue redistribution would be retained by the unions, the current major competitions and World Rugby.

Sanzaar chairman Brent Impey said the championship has the potential to secure the game’s financial future.

Leading nations Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have struggled to stem the tide of players departing for rich northern hemisphere club contracts

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the revised blueprint could stymie that trend.

“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,” Tew said.

The structure of the championship remains the same, with World Rugby proposing the Six Nations and an updated six-team Rugby Championship remain in the same windows as present.

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Inter-hemisphere Tests would take place in June and November to complete a full round-robin.

A straight final would be played, removing the previous concept of semi-finals.

© AAP