What now for Georgia, Uruguay, Japan, Chile, Spain, Romania, USA and others after news of new SANZAAR and Six Nations competition?

No one appreciates waking up on a Saturday and getting stopped in your tracks with the news that your favourite sport could be heading into a very perilous time, one that will only benefit those who have been in power for the last four decades.

There’s no other way to say it, but the decision by the SANZAAR and Six Nations boards to have a new rugby tournament is an overhaul and an aggressive takeover of the international calendar, which could hinder the recent growth of the likes of Georgia, Uruguay, Portugal, Chile, Japan, or Fiji, blocking the efforts of these and other unions who are stretching for new heights.

Related: Plans for new global rugby tournament unveiled

The main question that came out from fans, players, managers, and others from Tier Tw0 nations was: “What does this mean for those who are not in it?”

For now? We don’t know. World Rugby still hasn’t come out and addressed tough questions or clarified what will be the path and future for the majority. And there are more questions. What type of investment will be available? Will we have a “B” World League tournament with the same (or better) broadcasting reach and rights?

Aside from these questions, the main takeaway and worry is the connection between Tier One and Tier Two from 2026. Many ambitious sides will just have to wait for when the Rugby World Cup is on.

This new scenario can potentially channel significant investment and funds to the biggest unions, while the rest will be forced to fight for what is left, the fear now being that it is too little for any serious development. Fewer competitive matches, less funding to guarantee sufficient resources to bring the best players to the national team (let us not forget the battle for some Tier Two stars playing in top leagues to be allowed Test minutes). This could mean less attention and engagement, and less “voice” to make themselves heard.

SANZAAR and Six Nations closing doors

While handball, basketball, football, and volleyball keep opening doors, and inviting growing unions to be part of the central picture, rugby is doing the reverse and locking the pathway to success and growth, hiding the keys and giving them to a minority who still doesn’t understand how Georgia, Uruguay, Japan, Chile, Spain, Romania, USA and others are valuable for the future.

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup a couple of months from happening, and the 2031 hosted by the United States of America, the situation seems bleak and World Rugby needs to address it not with promises and hopes, but with a solid proposal that can deliver growth even if the Tier One world is out of bounds. 

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