World Rugby approve new ‘World League’ and expand World Cup
World Rugby have approved a new ‘World League’.
World Rugby have today voted in favour of introducing a ‘World League’ to replace November and Summer tours.
The proposal will see six northern hemisphere sides play three games against southern hemisphere nations away from home in the usual July window.
Similarly, the traditional November window will see six southern hemisphere teams travel to the north to play three matches against northern hemisphere outfits.
The World Rugby Council has approved transformational reform of the global men’s and women’s rugby calendars
Including the first-ever dedicated women’s and men’s calendars from 2026 and expansion of Rugby World Cup to 24 teams in 2027
To find out more: https://t.co/iQln1BcIid
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) October 24, 2023
World League to replace November and Summer test matches.
Results from these fixtures will affect two separate league tables – a six-team northern hemisphere league and a six-team southern hemisphere league.
The top team in either table will then go head-to-head in a ‘grand final’ where a world champion (of sorts) will be crowned.
The vote for the ‘World League’ was not without its controversies, however.
Council member Gus Pichot – who previously served as World Rugby vice-chairman – encouraged South American voters to opt against the proposal.
Pichot believes that the new tournament will be detrimental to smaller nations as it gate-keeps the game between established nations during test windows.
The counter-argument to Pichot’s claims is that promotion/relegation is to be introduced to the ‘World League’ divisions from 2030.
World Rugby also announced that the next World Cup will see an increase to 24 teams in a move that chairman Bill Beaumont says “will bring certainty and opportunity for all”.
The agreement also guaranteed that Lions Tours will continue to be scheduled for the summer window every four years.
The World League will come into effect in 2026 – a year after the 2025 Lions Tour of Australia – but won’t interfere with any tours thereafter.
Today’s news also has implications for the Women’s game as there will be ‘regional player release periods for the first time with no domestic competition overlap’.
For more information about World Rugby’s decision to introduce a ‘World League’ and expand the World Cup, you can click here.