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28th Feb 2019

Top rugby stars have slammed plans to launch a world league

World Rugby recently announced plans for a world league, starting in 2020. Some of the game's top players have criticised the plans

Alex Roberts

World Rugby recently announced plans for a world league, starting in 2020

The proposed league would involve England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, the USA and Japan.

World Rugby said the move would increase the “excitement, significance and value” of Test match rugby.

However, the plans have courted controversy among fans and players alike.

Some of the game’s top players have raised concerns over the prospect of playing multiple matches across different time-zones. Such a schedule would increase the amount of travel in an already busy season.

Ireland talisman Johnny Sexton, president of International Rugby Players, released a statement criticising the plans:

“While players gave this idea a cautious welcome when we met at the end of last year, it now seems like a commercial deal on the future of the game is being negotiated at a rapid pace with little consideration given to the important points we raised with World Rugby in November.”

What would a world league look like?

  • The Six Nations and Rugby Championship would remain the same
  • But Japan and the United States would join the Rugby Championship
  • In the summer, teams from the Six Nations would travel to the Southern Hemisphere to face three random sides from the Rugby Championship pool
  • In November, teams from the Rugby Championship would then head north. They would go head-to-head with the Six Nations sides they have yet to play

Sexton’s reservations were echoed by England’s Owen Farrell. He said:

“Players are definitely open to discussing a new global season, but what we develop has to work with the club game in order to reduce conflict, deal with player release issues and make sure their welfare is looked after.

“The proposal presented to us at the moment doesn’t seem to have considered this properly and shows no signs of improving this already difficult situation.”

The plans for a world league have also been criticised for their exclusion of both tier 2 nations and Pacific Island teams.