The Six Nations have taken the next step towards World Rugby’s proposed Nations League by agreeing to due diligence. The unions will be given access to commercially sensitive documents to establish the viability of the plan, which the organisers say will be worth £5bn over 12 years, and open their books for examination.
The major southern hemisphere unions had already agreed and a decision on the league, which would start from 2022, is expected on 22 May, when World Rugby’s council meets in Dublin. France supports the plan but the other five unions have expressed reservations, not least over the introduction of relegation to the Six Nations.
“The council met today and discussed the various options available, which involve the future structure and delivery of the championship,” said the Six Nations in a statement on Wednesday. “We will continue our due diligence in relation to the World Rugby Nations Championship proposal.
“This will be done under a non-disclosure agreement, so we will not be providing any further comment at this stage. We will continue to look at all the other options available.”
They include four proposals from private equity companies and a sports management group. All would require the six unions involved to surrender a proportion of profits each year, in return for a lump sum up front, and there is concern about millions of pounds raised by the game being taken out of it. World Rugby’s league would see profits remain in the sport. World Rugby’s plan is opposed by leading clubs in England and France.
Premiership Rugby, which this season agreed a deal with CVC – the private equity company among those seeking a stake in the Six Nations – has opened an investigation into whether Saracens have breached the salary cap regulations. The champions face a fine and potential points deduction if found guilty.
“I think you can be certain the clubs will be extremely determined to make sure justice is done if one or more of the teams are found to be in breach of salary cap rules,” the Gloucester owner, Martin St Quinton, told a fans’ forum this week. “There’s a strong determination in all the other chairmen and owners that they want to get to the bottom of this and if somebody has been cheating they face the punishment.”
The Bath director of rugby, Todd Blackadder, will leave a year early at the end of the season to take charge of Toshiba in Japan.
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The Australia full-back Israel Folau has asked for a code of conduct hearing after being served with a breach notice by Rugby Australia following his social media post expressing the view that hell awaits all sinners, including homosexuals.