Controversial global rugby competition likely to be binned over TV rights

World Rugby's proposed Nations League is expected to hit the buffers amid extensive opposition to the annual tournament.

Chairman Bill Beaumont will host a summit in Dublin tonight attended by representatives from all tier one countries plus Fiji and Japan, as well as the international players' union.

The challenge he faces is convincing the Six Nations unions to abandon Project Light - the pooling of TV rights from the Championship and the autumn Tests to drive up revenue - in favour of the three-tier Nations League.

However that would involve introducing promotion and relegation to the tournament, a possibility some unions including Ireland steadfastly oppose.

Strengthening the Championship's position is the funding raised if a substantial offer for a minority stake from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is accepted.

A Six Nations source states the CVC money is not needed to bring Project Light to fruition and there are several commercial options being explored.

Beaumont will argue the revised Nations League, which has been altered in response to feedback, will grow the global game and knit together the fixture lists in the two hemispheres culminating in an annual final.

Cash-strapped New Zealand, Australia and South Africa can't compete with wages offered by French and English clubs and support World Rugby's vision for greater international depth in hopes of securing greater funds.

All tier one nations must vote in favour for it to be given the green light, however, and that scenario is highly unlikely with the Six Nations unions instead defaulting to financial self-interest.

Project Light - with or without the CVC money - will deliver superior returns.

World Rugby, who was mandated by the unions to investigate the viability of an annual competition, argue this is a short-term outlook on growth due, with the blocking of promotion and relegation reducing competitiveness.

No decisive outcome is expected today as the proposals must be taken back to various boards and voted upon but it is almost certainly the final attempt to advance the case for the Nations League.

Sonny Bill Williams of New Zealand runs at Ben Te’o (12) of England during the Quilter Autumn Internationals match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham - 10/11/2018
©Matthew Impey / Wired Photos /
Sonny Bill Williams only lasted 30 minutes at Twickenham. Source: Photosport

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