Plans for a new international competition set to replace the regular matches played in July and November have been announced by Six Nations and Rugby Championship organisers. This follows the example of England’s 2-1 series victory over Australia in July 2022.
The biennial competition is slated to launch in 2026, and will involve all ten teams from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship. The tournament will be held during the existing July and November Test windows on alternate years, with exceptions for the British and Irish Lions tours and the World Cup.
Plans to invite two additional unions into the competition have been outlined, with the introduction of a promotion and relegation system by 2030 through a secondary competition run by World Rugby. Organisers anticipate this move will stimulate growth and enhance long-term sustainability.
Teams participating in the tournament will include England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy from the Six Nations, alongside South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina from the Rugby Championship, a group also known as Sanzaar.
The Six Nations and Sanzaar organisers will utilise a “transparent selection process” to select two more teams from the southern hemisphere, ensuring equal representation from each hemisphere.
While the tournament’s exact format is yet to be confirmed, it is anticipated that northern hemisphere teams would travel south for three Tests in July, and then host three games in November. The Six Nations and Rugby Championship would remain in their current calendar slots.
“The new competition’s creation has been a concerted effort from the sport, involving World Rugby, unions, key leagues, competitions, and importantly, the International Rugby Players (IRP),” shared the Six Nations and Sanzaar. “The two competitions will establish a platform for promotion and relegation matches, providing valuable pathways for teams and supporting the goals to sustain and grow the global game.”
Rugby leaders convened in London this week, where it was announced that the World Rugby Council would make a decision regarding the sport’s future global calendar in October. Attendees included representatives from World Rugby, the British and Irish Lions, the Six Nations, the Rugby Championship, stakeholders from IRP, the unions, and professional leagues.
The IRP shared its perspectives via Twitter, stating, “Any global season must provide opportunities for emerging nations and must prioritise player welfare.” The players’ association has also requested World Rugby to standardise player rest periods and impose a maximum match quota for all players worldwide.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Global Rugby Tournament
When is the new global rugby tournament set to begin?
The new global rugby tournament is scheduled to start in 2026.
Which teams are expected to participate in this tournament?
The tournament will involve all ten teams from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, including England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina. Two more teams will be invited to join through a transparent selection process.
What is the proposed schedule for this tournament?
While the final format is not yet confirmed, it’s expected that teams from the north would travel south for three tests in July and then host three games in November.
Will the Six Nations and Rugby Championship continue to be played?
Yes, both the Six Nations and Rugby Championship will continue to be played in their current slots in the calendar.
What is the long-term goal of this new tournament?
The long-term goal of this tournament is to drive growth and sustainability in global rugby, by providing a platform for promotion, relegation matches, and valuable pathways for teams.
Who are the key stakeholders in the creation of this tournament?
The creation of this tournament has been a collective effort from the sport, involving World Rugby, unions, key leagues, competitions, and crucially, the International Rugby Players (IRP).
How will player welfare be ensured in this new tournament format?
The International Rugby Players (IRP) have stressed that any global season must prioritize player welfare. They have also called for standardization of player rest periods and the introduction of a maximum match quota for all players worldwide.