Rugby – Australia ‘on board’ with international revamp

Rugby Union - IRB Rugby World Cup 2019 Press Conference - The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London - 27/10/15 Brett Gosper, Rugby World Cup Limited Managing Director during the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Twice World Cup winners Australia has thrown its weight behind a radical revamp of the international calendar which would have the world’s top 12 nations all playing each other once every year in a bid to improve revenues.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper told Sydney newspaper Daily Telegraph on Wednesday that the game’s global governing body was studying the feasibility of the proposal which was revealed by vice chairman Agustin Pichot last month.

“Certainly the southern hemisphere are keen to make sure that we’re working more closely with our northern hemisphere colleagues and it’s not an us-and-them scenario, it’s actually how can we work together to make sure we maximise the opportunities for the game of rugby as a whole,” Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle told local broadcaster Fox Sports.

“Yeah absolutely, Rugby Australia’s on board and we’re very open to the conversations that are happening at a World Rugby level.”

In the proposal, the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship and the northern hemisphere’s Six Nations would be retained but would count as the first phase of matches in the global tournament.

The second phase would have northern and southern hemisphere teams meet in international windows in July and November. The four best-performing teams would play off to decide a champion.

“From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds very interesting,” Australia coach Michael Cheika said on Fox Sports.

“It’d be one hell of a mission to get all of the rugby playing countries from the north and south on the same page, that’s for sure.

“But I think the idea of more meaningful series, even though every test match is very important, but maybe from the fan’s perspective, that could be something interesting.”

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