Bill Beaumont revives tweaked Nations Championship proposal

Re-elected World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont is confident he can create a Nations Championship at the second attempt, suggesting two straight months of Test rugby at the end of the year could be the answer.

Beaumont was announced as the winner of the Council election on Saturday [BST], the incumbent chairman defeating challenger Agustin Pichot by a vote of 28-23.

Pichot had run a convincing campaign built on the promise of a more global game and the promotion of smaller rugby nations, coupled with a governance review and a belief he could successfully push through the Nations Championship.

But it wasn't enough, with votes from Fiji and Samoa helping Beaumont to victory. The Englishman's campaign had touched on many of the same reforms as Pichot, though a truly global season and the problematic world league appear to be at the forefront of his planning.

"We will be looking at the global season, maybe again looking at a variation of the Nations Championship; that was one of the big regrets that I was unable to put away," Beaumont said. "But we've learnt from that experience.

"I'd also like to think that out of that we need to [heed] of what the players [think]; I am committed to getting the players involved in any decision that we make."

The July Test window was unlikely to be contested this year given the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may be on the way out in the future, too, if Beaumont can get all of rugby's varied and complex stakeholders on board.

The Englishman says he will look to reignite the Nations Championship plan by pitching back-to-back international windows, most likely at the end of year.

"These are very much in the embryo stage at the moment; people are talking because obviously what has stimulated the debate is the position regarding this year for instance, where we do not know if any games will take place, we just don't know," Beaumont said.

"And so I think this has stimulated a debate as to would it be better putting two [Test] windows together so that the north would go south in one month and then immediately afterwards the south would come north in the next month.

"But bearing in mind we have to take all stakeholders with us. In the north we've got to take the club game, the European game with us, and this is not in isolation. So we are in dialogue with all these stakeholders."

The original Nations Cup proposal was defeated by the Six Nations last time around, though Beaumont believes there is renewed interest from the powerful alliance this time around.

He also hinted relegation and promotion, which were among the chief issues that saw the Six Nations countries vote down the proposal last year, could also be brought back to the negotiating table.

Beaumont also said there was no talk that the Six Nations would be shifted from its traditional February-March window.

"What we will try and do is bring in a new competition that keeps the Six Nations a standalone competition but there could well be an instance - this is my own view of it in the Nations Cup - that maybe after one [season] that not all the Six Nations teams are playing in that competition at that top level.

"I do think there is an appetite from the Six Nations to look at a Nations Cup...nobody has ever mentioned to me that the Six Nations timescale would move. I think, in my opinion what would move would be the July and November [windows].

"The Six Nations, why would you move it from then because it is not affecting anybody else's window on the global calendar ... it doesn't affect anywhere around the globe."

The SANZAAR nations were united in their support of the Nations Championship in 2019, particularly given it was likely to result in a significant financial windfall.