British & Irish Lions

World Rugby rejects ‘Coronavirus Cup’ suggestion

Pieter-Steph du Toit on the charge in the 2019 World Cup final (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Pieter-Steph du Toit on the charge in the 2019 World Cup final (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers

World Rugby has dismissed an idea for a major international tournament to be held in England next year designed to ease the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis less than a day after it was made public.

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Francis Baron, a former chief executive of England's Rugby Football Union, put forward a scheme to stage a 16-team invitational tournament to be staged in Britain and Ireland next June and July based on the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.

Baron, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph published late on Tuesday, forecast the World Cup-type event could generate a net profit for distribution to unions of £200-250 million.

This would be in addition to the £80m World Rugby support funding package already in place for a global game shut down by Covid-19.

But Baron's plan would also have needed the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in July and August to be postponed by a year.

And a statement issued by rugby union's global governing body on Wednesday said of his scheme: "World Rugby does not intend to pursue such a proposal.

"All stakeholders continue to progress productive discussions regarding the immediate global Covid-19 financial relief strategy and international rugby calendar optimisation, both of which will further the success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France."

Meanwhile, Exeter chief executive Tony Rowe said he wanted the interrupted English Premiership season played to a finish after the British government recently gave the go-ahead to a return to contact training.

"I don't mind saying, last week I was pretty depressed as I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel," said Rowe.

"At that time, we were not sure when we could get back to training and what the future told. This announcement this week has changed things and now I'm more confident that we will return to playing again soon."

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