World Rugby planning world league with north v south 'grand final' - report

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Springboks Damian Willemse and Willie le Roux.
Springboks Damian Willemse and Willie le Roux.
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  • A new world league with a north versus south "grand final" is reportedly on the cards.
  • This would see Test rugby adopt a league format, with two groups of six from each hemisphere.
  • If adopted, it would put paid to talks of the Springboks joining the Six Nations.

World Rugby's top brass are reportedly planning a new world league that will see a northern versus southern hemisphere "grand final" every two years.

According to British publication The Telegraph, the global governing body's dramatic overhaul of Test rugby could be introduced from 2026.

The report states that plans are in a "final consultation phase" and only need approval from club and players' representatives.

READ | Controversial Jaco Peyper red card in Six Nations blockbuster rescinded

This new concept would see Test rugby adopt a league format, with two groups of six from each hemisphere.

The northern group would consist of the current Six Nations teams, while the southern group would see Japan and Fiji join the four Rugby Championship teams.

This would essentially put paid to talks that the Springboks could join the Six Nations in future.

How it works:

Every two years from 2026, northern hemisphere nations will play three southern hemisphere teams away from home in the July window, with reverse fixtures played in November.

This would bring an end to the traditional three-week tours against a host country.

The top team from each pool would face each other in a "grand final", while the other teams would play ranking playoff fixtures.

The report added that the British & Irish Lions tours would still go ahead every four years.

In terms of growing the game globally, a negative is that it would mean fewer fixtures between Tier One and Tier Two nations, with the report stating that promotion relegation could only be introduced via a second-tier competition from 2030.

The concept could be unveiled just before the Rugby World Cup in France in September.

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