Another year of Six Nations rugby has come to a close and what a final round it was. Wales outclassing Ireland to win the Grand Slam, England throwing away a 31-0 lead to draw at home to Scotland and France withstand all the pressure to sneak a win in Rome.
Despite how enjoyable it has been, the tournament has been overshadowed by numerous news stories in the rugby world, including the potential for the Six Nations to move away from terrestrial television.
CVC Capital Partners have supposedly offered £500 million for 30% of the Six Nations – which could also dent World Rugby’s ‘Nations Championship’ plans – which would reportedly provide each nation with a vast amount of money.
However, there is a fear that CVC are simply just interested in money (shock) and that rugby, its values and fans, are of little importance to them.
But can you blame them? They are, after all, a business first and foremost and money is the ‘be all and end all’. The money would help, granted, as long as it does filter down to the grass-routes in each of the six nations governing bodies. But at what expense are we going to priorities the well-being of the business side of rugby over the fans?
The broadcasting rights have not been the only debate topics running parallel with this season’s Six Nations. World Rugby have been writing up and planning a new ‘Nations Championship’ in the last month or so, which would see two 12-team leagues formed, with each side playing each other through the year. Which would have a serious impact on the Six Nations impact.
World Rugby’s plans for this new format involves the merging of results from the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship and also would introduce promotion and relegation from both of those championships. This is something that a few nations have issues with and an area that needs to be re-considered before anything is moved forward.
France and South Africa are among those nations that back the idea but still have their reservations.
French federation boss, Bernard Laporte, explained that France was only “wanting the best for the game globally”.
“The meetings were positive and constructive and there are still details to be worked through, but France believes in this concept for the good of the game globally,”. (Source:BBC Sport)
South African Rugby counterpart Jurie Roux was another of those to speak out about the plans.
“Creating a meaningful season-long competition out of the current patchwork of events and tournaments has an obvious appeal as well as proving a clear development pathway for emerging nations, which speaks directly to one of the fundamental goals of World Rugby.
“But there are a number of due diligences to be performed and questions to be answered before anything can come to fruition.” (Source: BBC Sport)
The Six Nations has always been such a popular competition and you cannot help but feel that changes now will affect that. Slapping a price tag upon certain matches would be a real kick in the teeth for your average rugby fan.
The idea that this ‘Nations Championship’ might be introduced in the next few years, is certainly one that makes you feel slightly uneasy.
It has been and will continue to be an extremely testing period in the sport’s history and the future of the game is very much in the balance. Decisions that are made here will no doubt have ramifications for years and years to come, so we must all keep our fingers crossed for the right outcome.