Rugby World Cup 2019 was the most competitive men’s competition to date with overall winning margins reduced and Japan blazing a trail on the way to becoming the first side from Asia to qualify for the quarter finals of the men’s showcase event.
However, with a new four-year cycle of tours and tests underway on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France following the non-implementation of the innovative Nations Championship concept, the meeting represents World Rugby’s commitment to optimising performance for emerging unions.
The workshop followed a detailed Rugby World Cup debrief with teams in December and is the second step on the journey to identifying key principles of a potential and sustainable global competition model for teams outside of the two traditional annual competitions with a view on implementation in 2021.
The key outcome from the meeting was alignment in principle on exploring a competition model that will bring greater context and structure to the international calendar for emerging nations, providing a merit-based process for linking the pathway from the regional tournaments in to a high performance level global competition.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Enhancing competition opportunity, meaning and competitiveness for our unions outside of the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship is critical to the future growth, prosperity and sustainability of the global game.
“We must evolve and examine both opportunities and challenges from the fans and marketplace's perspectives, and not solely the performance imperative. It was great to see so much buy-in from the high performance personnel, coaches, players and chief executives – all agreed that meaningful change is required.
“This hugely productive and positive meeting demonstrated the collective alignment and excitement across the game to achieve something special that will truly enable us to better support and sustain the needs of our unions, driving a more competitive global game and Rugby World Cup, which is great for unions, players, fans, broadcasters and commercial partners. I would like to thank everyone for their full contributions.”
The outcomes of the workshop will be presented to the World Rugby Regional Rugby Committee and Executive Committees in March with a view to accelerate focused consultation ahead of a preferred model being considered by the World Rugby Council in May.
The workshop was attended by members of World Rugby and high performance and coaching personnel from nations including Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, Uruguay, and the USA, alongside representatives from all six World Rugby regions, SANZAAR, Six Nations and International Rugby Players.