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CVC bid for Six Nations threatens World Rugby competition

Former Formula One owners CVC have reportedly lined up a bid for a stake in The Six Nations which could scupper World Rugby’s plans for an annual global tournament © AFP / Glyn KIRK

LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 13 – The Six Nations is considering an offer from former Formula One owners CVC Capital Partners to take a stake in it which if accepted would scupper World Rugby’s plans for their so-called Nations League, British media reported Wednesday.

CVC — who in December acquired a reported 27 percent stake worth more than £200 million ($263 million) in the English Premiership — would enrich each of the six unions to the tune of £100million according to the BBC.

This comes on the eve of World Rugby hosting a meeting at their headquarters in Dublin over their controversial plans for an annual global competition which is seen as providing crucial financial funds for the southern hemisphere nations.

It is believed that both Ireland and Scotland oppose the Nations League concept primarily because they do not agree with there being relegation and promotion for the Six Nations.

The Six Nations unions — England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and France — have been looking to the future for some time now about increasing their broadcast revenue collectively in a strategy dubbed ‘Project Light’.

Their plan is to embrace both their championship and the November Tests — when the southern hemisphere teams come to them — in one broadcast deal.

CVC’s reported offer — for an approximate 30% share in the Six Nations — is one of several, the BBC suggest.

According to The Times, CVC tabled their offer which would be restricted to the commercial arm and not the running of the tournament itself, on Monday.

However, it is believed should they accept CVC’s offer it would lead to the Six Nations being taken away from free to air television — it has been rumoured that Amazon are circling.

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Sources at the unions have not denied an offer is on the table but insist a deal is not imminent.

– ‘Player welfare is fundamental’ –

The reports of the CVC interest threaten to overshadow World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont’s meeting with the Tier 1 nations Japan and Fiji on Thursday © POOL/AFP / Francois Mori

The reports will not make World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont’s task any easier when he meets with the Tier 1 chief executives and those from Japan and Fiji as well as players’ representatives on Thursday.

World Rugby outlined its concept for the new tournament last Wednesday, which would start in 2022, saying it was “committed to the global advancement of rugby”.

The proposed Championship would see the formation of two conferences — a European conference and a rest of the world conference — each with two divisions of six teams and a third division comprising 16 teams.

Both the International Rugby Players (IRP) and the London-based Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) organisation had been up in arms over original proposals that were leaked a fortnight ago.

The IRP — led by their President and world player of the year Johnny Sexton — were furious at what they saw were commercial interests being placed ahead of player welfare.

The PRPW were threatening a boycott of this year’s World Cup due to the belief that none of the Pacific Islands would be in the 12 team top level competition — with the United States featuring instead, apparently the idea of World Rugby’s ambitious vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.

However, World Rugby clarified these matters last week.

“Under this model, the Pacific Islands and all teams outside the current Six Nations and The Rugby Championship would have a potential pathway” to play annually at the highest level of the game for the first time,” it said in a statement.

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“Player welfare is fundamental to our sport,” it added.

“Within the original proposal, players would play a maximum of 13 matches if their team reaches the final, compared to an average of between 12 and 14 Test matches presently. Most teams would play 11 matches.”

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