A new international rugby competition between the nations of the southern hemisphere and those of the north will see the light of day in 2026, announced on Saturday 1er July the Six Nations committee and the Sanzaar, which manages competitions in the southern hemisphere. It will take place in July and November. every two years “outside the years of the World Cup, and will replace the traditional test matches and tours between these countries, specify the two organizations in a joint press release.
This new meeting bringing together “the elite” world rugby will bring together all the teams of the Six Nations Tournament (France, England, Scotland, Italy, Wales and Ireland) and Sanzaar (Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa), “with two places reserved for federations by invitation to join the group of the southern hemisphere”.
The well-being of the players as a “priority”
A selection process ” transparent “ will be managed by the Sanzaar, with the support of World Rugby and the International Rugby Players, to determine these two guest nations, explains the press release. Two groups of six teams will then be formed, and will play matches ” go “ in July and ” feedback “ in November.
The International Rugby Players Union “has been involved at every stage of the development of this new competition”, assure the two entities, while criticism around too heavy schedules are more and more present. The organizations ensure that ” to guarantee (…) the welfare of the players remains a fundamental priority in all decision-making.”.
To strengthen the development of emerging nations, “World Rugby will create a second tier competition that will welcome teams from Europe and the rest of the world”, they add. Eventually, the establishment of these two competitions will pave the way for “promotion and relegation matches” between the two divisions.