Cape Town - World Rugby has scrambled to issue a media statement following unprecedented fall-out after reports surfaced that they'd given the green-light for the creation of a 'World League' that would effectively end the playing days of countries outside the selected 'Big 12'.
In the statement published on their website, World Rugby stated:
World Rugby recognises and values the importance of player considerations and input into the annual international competition discussions.
However, the manner the International Rugby Players (IRP) organisation has expressed these is surprising given regular engagement throughout this ongoing process. World Rugby’s commitment to player welfare matters is unwavering and we will continue to engage and give full consideration to the welfare of players within the ongoing discussions.
It is inappropriate to comment on specifics whilst wider stakeholder consultation, including with IRP, is ongoing. However, it is important to note that some assumptions made in the statement regarding the proposed competition structure are inaccurate and that important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept.
Consumer research confirms a structured annual competition would make fans and new audiences more likely to watch, attend and engage with international rugby, exposing the sport to new fans worldwide. There is also no doubt that a structured annual international competition would deliver significantly greater long-term global media revenue for reinvestment in the global game. This project has at its heart long-term growth and stability, not short-term wins, and that includes greater opportunity for players.
As instructed by our Executive Committee and the Unions, we remain committed to a process of constructive dialogue with all stakeholders, including the IRP, to deliver a model that ensures the best-possible competition and commercial outcomes for all and a truly exciting and meaningful annual international competition structure that is great for players, clubs, fans and unions.