Rugby: Modified 'Nations Championship' proposal released

World Rugby has clarified plans for a new global international competition before its meeting in Dublin this month.

The proposal would be called the 'Nations Championship', beginning in 2022, and would feature promotion and relegation across three tiers.

The top 12 teams would be split into two conferences, comprising the Six Nations and Rugby Championship.

The two extra teams in the Rugby Championship conference would be chosen on rankings, which would currently be Fiji and Japan.

Every team play each other once, with the top two sides from each conference playing semi-finals and finals, meaning a maximum of 13 tests a year.

The competition would run twice in a four-year cycle, also allowing for the Rugby World Cup and a British & Irish Lions tour within that period.

It would act as a World Cup qualifying and seeding event, with the existing tournament possibly expanded to 24 teams in 2027.

Last week, leaked plans caused outrage over the increased load on players over the year and the lack of Pacific Island teams.

Pacific Players Welfare chief executive Daniel Leo threatened a Pacific Island boycott of this year's World Cup, if the new competition did not include the likes of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew insisted his body remained committed to the global rugby concept, but would not turn its back on the development Pacific Island rugby.

At the time, World Rugby head Sir Bill Beaumont insisted none of these proposals had been approved, but were simply being considered before the March meeting.

"Contrary to reports, our proposed competition provides opportunities for all teams to compete at the top level on merit, with promotion and relegation," says the latest World Rugby statement.

"Under this model, the Pacific Islands and all teams outside the current Six Nations and the Rugby Championship would have a potential pathway.

"With the proposed model incorporating competitions that are not owned or run by World Rugby, not all unions are presently in favour of immediate promotion and relegation.

"We continue to consider the feedback, but remain absolutely committed to an eventual pathway for all."