You are here

The newest wrinkle in World Rugby’s ongoing efforts to change the structure of the game, and to seek new initiatives to monetize the sport will be its recommendation that Test friendlies be replaced by a newly created, 12-nation north and south league.

In the past, these summer to November friendlies represented 56-percent of total annual Tests. Nations, especially, the top ten ranking, chose opponents from around the globe, including tier-two fifteens, which bolstered the competition among the lesser sides.

World Rugby sees no benefit to these Tests and wants to substitute a “World League” event each November, comprising the top 12 ranked nations, competing for a winner-take-all finish. The League’s playoff structure would consist of four pools of three nations each, playing weekly matches in early November (games alternating one year in the northern hemisphere, the next in the southern hemisphere). The four pool winners would advance to a semifinal round, and then, the final match for the league title.

If the tournament stared this November, these are the twelve nations per the current World Rugby rankings:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Ireland
  3. Wales
  4. England
  5. South Africa
  6. Scotland
  7. Australia
  8. France
  9. Argentina
  10. Fiji
  11. Japan
  12. Tonga

The USA are  ranked 15th.

There are major questions that the top rugby unions must ask themselves when considering this proposal:

  • Do they want to play in a league that would lessen the importance of the annual Six Nations and Rugby Championship events? and,
  • Will this annual World League event dilute the importance of and possibly curtail the revenues from the quadrennial World Cup?