New $1 Billion Rugby Nations Championship Set to Transform International Rugby from 2026

New $1 Billion Rugby Nations Championship Set to Transform International Rugby from 2026

Earlier this year, the rugby world was abuzz with the news of a potential major shake-up in Test rugby, set to come into effect in 2026.

Reports confirmed that World Rugby’s council had tentatively approved a new bi-annual international competition known as the Nations Championship.

This groundbreaking event is expected to be held every two years, featuring a northern versus southern hemisphere ‘grand final’ to crown the ultimate rugby champions.

Structure and Teams Involved

The first division of the Nations Championship will include the elite teams from the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations, along with Fiji and Japan. This format aims to bring together the best rugby nations from both hemispheres, creating an exciting and competitive tournament.

The tournament structure will see teams from the southern hemisphere host three northern hemisphere sides during the July Test window, and then travel north for matches in the November window, thus ending the traditional three-week tours.

Qatar’s Ambitious Proposal

According to The Telegraph, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has entered into a two-month exclusivity period with Six Nations Rugby and SANZAAR. This exclusivity period is part of a proposal that includes a monumental $1 billion, eight-year deal to host the prestigious finals of the Nations Championship.

This deal has been described as the ‘Super Bowl of Rugby,’ envisioning a grand final where the top-ranked European team faces off against the leading southern hemisphere team.

The remaining teams will compete in ranking matches to determine their final placements down to sixth place.

Competing Bids and Benefits

Despite a competing bid from the global sports and media giant IMG, Qatar’s proposal is currently leading the way.

The significant financial benefits and opportunities for growth presented by Qatar’s bid have been recognized, making it the frontrunner in these negotiations.

The substantial $1 billion investment is seen as a major boost for the sport, providing funds that can help grow rugby in tier-two nations and develop the game in less affluent countries.

Implications for the Southern Hemisphere Teams

For southern hemisphere teams like the Springboks, the introduction of this tournament would mean hosting three northern hemisphere sides in the July Test window from 2026, followed by traveling north in November.

This shift will bring an end to the traditional three-week tours, offering a new and dynamic format for international rugby.

The top team from each pool will compete in a ‘grand final,’ while other teams will play in ranking playoffs.

Continued Traditional Tours

Despite the new competition format, traditional rugby tours such as the British & Irish Lions tours and the Rugby World Cup will continue as usual. T

his ensures that the rich history and tradition of these tours remain intact, even as the sport evolves with the introduction of the Nations Championship.

Opposition and Challenges

The proposal has not been without its critics. Opposition has come from tier-two nations and Argentina, primarily due to the lack of promotion and relegation between the two leagues until 2030, despite the introduction of a Challenger Series involving teams ranked 13 to 24.

This has raised concerns about the inclusivity and fairness of the new competition structure.

Decision-Making Process

The final decision on the implementation of the Nations Championship rests with the Six Nations and SANZAAR, although World Rugby is also involved in the negotiations.

The global governing body appears to be on board, seeing a share of the generated funds as a crucial means to support and grow the sport in tier-two nations and develop rugby in poorer countries.


The proposed Nations Championship represents a significant evolution in the world of Test rugby, promising to bring exciting changes and opportunities.

With Qatar’s ambitious $1 billion deal leading the charge, the competition is set to transform the landscape of international rugby, offering a thrilling new format for fans and players alike.

As negotiations continue, the rugby community eagerly awaits the final decision that could usher in a new era for the sport from 2026.

TDPel Media

This article was published on TDPel Media. Thanks for reading!

Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn

Advertisement: Download Vital Signs App (VS App)