World Rugby greenlight controversial Nations Championship

Jared Wright
RG Snyman of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup Semi-final 2 match between England and South Africa at Stade de France.

RG Snyman of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup Semi-final 2 match between England and South Africa at Stade de France.

The World Rugby board have voted to greenlight the controversial Nations Championship.

The decision is set to majorly shake up the international landscape of rugby, with many warning that the new competition will be the death of the sport, particularly for non-Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams.

New landscape for international rugby

In July this year, the Six Nations and SANZAAR teams issued a joint statement unveiling plans for the new two-tier global tournament.

This biennial international tournament, outside of British and Irish Lions tour years, would take place in the current July and November Test windows.

Two unions, probably Japan and Fiji, are set to join SANZAAR’s four nations in the Rugby Championship and, along with the Six Nations Rugby teams, would compete in the top tier.

The tournament will be ring-fenced until 2030, with World Rugby creating a newly formed second-tier competition.


The concept required a final sign-off and vote from the World Rugby board, which it has received today.

According to a report by SportsMail, it required a 75 per cent majority from the 51 council votes, which it has reportedly received with just 10 opposing the proposals.

The tournament is set to make its debut in 2026 but would be ring-fenced with current Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams – plus Fiji and Japan – taking part in one-off fixtures during the July and November Test windows, with a grand final to decide the overall winner.

No promotion or relegation would take place from the top tier and the second tier of the tournament until at least 2030.

Ahead of the vote, it was reported that former Argentina scrum-half and World Rugby vice president Agustin Pichot looked to rally up the votes against the concept.

The Telegraph reported that Pichot had got three votes against the concept, and there were fears he would garner more.

When the concept was announced back in July, many fans and journalists slammed the idea, particularly for the impact it will have on tier-two nations like Georgia, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Samoa, Tonga, etc.

“If you know me well enough, you know that I’m not a pessimist, but this, this takes the cake,” Planet Rugby writer Francisco Isaac wrote on X, formerly Twitter, at the time.

“6N board and the SANZAAR group are doing their own thing and locking the main investment channels so there’s no new uprising in rugby. This won’t be the end, but it is just vile.”

READ MORE: ‘The death of Tier 2 rugby’ – Fans slam plans for new global international rugby tournament