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UPDATE: SANZAAR says they're "disappointed" over Nations Championship axing

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19th June, 2019
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World Rugby has ditched its attempt at a global Nations Championship after failing to secure enough support from potential participants.

SANZAAR has expressed disappointment that the proposed World Rugby Nations Championship (WRNC) concept that was set to redefine the international rugby calendar has officially been taken off the table.

World Rugby abandoned its plans to create a Nations Championship after failing to gain support from unions, the sport’s ruling body said.

Rugby’s governing body needed unanimous approval from the 10 countries that make up the Six Nations and Rugby Championship – including Australia and New Zealand – to enter into exclusive negotiations.

World Rugby on Wednesday identified the inability to reach consensus on key issues, such as the timing and format of promotion and relegation, as the reason for scrapping the project.

The Nations Championship was scheduled to begin in 2022 and would have taken place in traditional competitions like the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, as well as during existing Test windows, with the top two teams meeting in the final at the end of the year.

“While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“This includes our continued commitment to competition and investment opportunities for emerging nations to increase the competitiveness of the international game with a view to possible Rugby World Cup expansion in 2027.”

The SANZAAR member unions – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina – despite having some concerns over elements of what was presented, most notably promotion/relegation – had all signed the Offer Letters to enter into the next phase of due diligence with the aim of working through the concerns with all interested parties.

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“The Nations Championship was a golden opportunity to grow the game internationally but is seemingly lost,” SANZAAR chairman Brent Impey said.

“SANZAAR remains convinced that such a revamped international calendar is the right course of action supported by professional cross-border competitions such as Super Rugby and the various European premierships.”