World Rugby has clarified that Pacific Islands will not be excluded from the World League. Proposed 12-team tournament is thought to take place from 2020. Teams playing in the Six Nations Championship (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) and The Rugby Championship (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina) will participate in the new competition. United States and Japan were rumored to the fill the two slots. World Rugby has now revealed that final two positions will be filled on merit through promotion/relegation basis. This means that Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are not locked out of the World League tournament.
CEO of World Rugby Brett Gosper said: “The two-division competition would provide more player opportunities and ensure financial stability for unions. Importantly, participation would be merit-based, based on rankings at an agreed time. Therefore, there is no question of closing out the Pacific Islands as we would be adding two more emerging unions to the top table whilst financing a second tier competition with all the benefits that would bring to the players.”
Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby hopes that World League will increase competitiveness of the international sport. He reckons that it will benefit the Rugby World Cup also. He thinks that RWC can be expanded to 24 teams in future. Gosper feels that World Rugby can work as qualification tournament for the Webb Ellis Cup as well. He revealed that World League will be two tier tournament, with inclusion in top division dependent on ranking basis. He iterated that World League will not affect British and Irish Lions tours also.
Brett Gosper further stated: “Analysis confirms a more competitive international game, and therefore Rugby World Cup, would heighten the possibility of expanding the tournament to 24 teams. It certainly would not erode the special and unique atmosphere of a Rugby World Cup and it could also act as a qualification vehicle. Lions tours would not be affected as we plan for a lighter programme in those years; the spotlight would be firmly on the Lions.”
Brett Gosper also took to Twitter to quash rumors about the World League. He addressed concerns raised by players and representative bodies. He particularly denied exclusion of Pacific islands from the lucrative tournament.
Avalanche of media on World League in last 24hrs. Many inaccuracies. World Rugby has pushed for relegation/promotion which is not universally supported. The 2 extra tier 2 teams funded to enter the Rugby Championship will be selected on merit – so no Pacific shut out!
— Brett Gosper (@brettgosper) March 2, 2019