World Rugby have dashed the hopes of World 12s tournament organisers, saying they “do not wish to explore” the concept at this time.
A new 12-a-side competition dubbed World 12s was launched last month, with organisers stating their intention to hold the inaugural edition of the tournament in England next August.
World 12s hopes to attract some of the biggest names in the sport to the competition, and would be held before the European club rugby season and aims to emulate the success of the Indian Premier League or The Hundred in cricket.
However, the chances of the tournament going ahead now looks unlikely, as World Rugby have refused to sanction the tournament, explaining that they are focused on establishing an annual international calendar that prioritises player welfare.
World Rugby statement on World 12s tournament.
“The game’s major stakeholders welcome innovative thinking that has the potential to enhance the sport, and new concepts are always given full consideration,” a World Rugby statement reads.
“World Rugby has reflected the views of national unions, international and domestic competitions to the group proposing World 12s and confirmed that stakeholders do not wish to explore the concept further at this time.
“This is a position endorsed by the World Rugby executive committee and professional game committee, which includes representatives from across the elite men’s and women’s game.
“The priority for the sport is advancing productive discussions regarding the establishment of a welfare-focused, streamlined and harmonious annual international calendar.”
Rugby’s Brightest Minds.
You love to see it.
— World 12s (@World12s) September 7, 2021
Tournament now looks unlikely to proceed.
While the chances of the tournament now going ahead aren’t quite zero, World Rugby’s statement will come as a major blow to proponents of the proposed competition.
As World 12s won’t be sanctioned by World Rugby, for the time being at least, players could face consequences for playing in the tournament, if they wish to continue playing either club or international 15s rugby.
Several big names did support the creation of the tournament, such as former Rugby World Cup-winning coaches Steve Hansen and Jake White, but concerns over player welfare was always going to be a major issue.
Having players compete in the World 12s before then playing club rugby in one of the already established competitions was always unlikely to go down well, as players would have been unavailable to their clubs for much of the pre-season.