World Rugby hit back at players’ outcry over possible World League format

GOVERNING BODY WORLD Rugby has expressed its surprise at the strongly-worded statement from International Rugby Players (IRP) this morning on the reported structure of a new 12-team global league.

As IRP president, Jonathan Sexton branded the mooted schedule, particularly the prospect of five matches on consecutive November weekends from next year, “out of touch”, while many others have decried the possible absence of Pacific nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

In a statement released this afternoon, World Rugby said the manner in which the IRP have publicly outlined their concerns “is surprising given regular engagement throughout this ongoing process.

“World Rugby’s commitment to player welfare matters is unwavering and we will continue to engage and give full consideration to the welfare of players within the ongoing discussions.”

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With regard to the proposed tournament itself, the governing body insist consultation with stakeholders is ongoing. And though they do not go into specifics about which points of the New Zealand Herald report or IRP’s follow-up statement were inaccurate, but WR vice chairman Agustin Pichot has tweeted his wish for promotion and relegation to be a feature for the 12-team league.

“It is important to note that some assumptions made in the statement regarding the proposed competition structure are inaccurate and that important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept.”