UPDATE 1-Rugby-World Rugby scraps plans for Nations Championship

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June 19 (Reuters) - World Rugby has abandoned its plans to create a Nations Championship after failing to gain support from unions, the sport's ruling body said on Wednesday.

Rugby’s governing body needed unanimous approval from the 10 countries that make up the Six Nations and Rugby Championship to enter into exclusive negotiations.

World Rugby identified the inability to reach a consensus on key issues such as the timing and format of promotion and relegation as the reason for scrapping the project.

“While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions," World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

"This includes our continued commitment to competition and investment opportunities for emerging nations to increase the competitiveness of the international game with a view to possible Rugby World Cup expansion in 2027.”

The Nations Championship was scheduled to begin in 2022 and would have been made up of a top division of 12 teams from northern and southern hemispheres facing each other once over the course of a calendar year.

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The fixtures would have taken place in traditional competitions like the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, as well as during summer and autumn test windows, with the top two teams meeting in the final at the end of the year.

However, the issue of promotion and relegation proved to be a sticking point, with Scotland and Ireland expressing doubt over the sustainability of the second division.

World Rugby said it had made every effort to provide solutions and reassurance on key areas.

“The core objective of the Nations Championship was to secure a strong and sustainable financial and competition model for unions, provide for the first time a meaningful competition pathway for all emerging nations, further inject excitement into the international game for fans and broadcasters and develop new markets for the betterment of all,” the statement added. (Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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