EXCLUSIVE: March 29 is D-Day for £5bn Nations Championship revamp

March 29 is D-Day for £5bn Nations Championship revamp… with Sepp Blatter’s nephew heading its backing

  • World Rugby is looking to revamp the international game into an annual concept
  • The Nations Championship is being backed by a sports marketing company
  • Switzerland-based Front Sports’ investment is worth £5billion over 12 years

A deadline of March 29 has been set for unions to sign up to the Nations Championship — backed by a sports marketing company headed by Sepp Blatter’s nephew. 

World Rugby on Thursday revealed their future vision for the sport in a meeting with leading officials in Dublin, and it emerged that their annual Nations Championship concept will be financed by In Front Sports, based in Zug, Switzerland. 

Their investment is worth £5billion over 12 years. Their chief executive and president is Philippe Blatter – whose uncle is currently serving a FIFA suspension after his time as president of football’s governing body was plagued by allegations of corruption. 

The Nations Championship proposal is being backed by a sports marketing company Front Sports headed by Sepp Blatter's nephew, Philippe Blatter (right)

The Nations Championship proposal is being backed by a sports marketing company Front Sports headed by Sepp Blatter’s nephew, Philippe Blatter (right)

In a statement released by World Rugby following the meeting, chairman Bill Beaumont admitted that ‘not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward’. It is understood that the Irish and Scottish unions in particular remain fiercely opposed to the new model which would involve Six Nations promotion and relegation.  

Sportsmail can reveal that there is a very limited time-frame for unions to put aside their reservations and commit to the plans. They have until March 29 to sign offer letters and submit them to World Rugby. If all unions do not sign up by that landmark date, two weeks from now, the Nations Championship vision will be scrapped. If all unions do sign up, the proposals will be fine-tuned by mid-May, ready to be ratified by the World Rugby council on May 22.

Crucially, by signing up to the Nations Championship, unions must agree to forfeit their right to negotiate other deals. That leaves the Irish, Scots and the rest of the Six Nations unions to decide whether to jump aboard the World Rugby bandwagon, or go their own way, by committing to the so-called Project Light – a news rights plan backed by CVC. The private equity firm have offered £100million per union in return for a 30 per cent stake in the tournament.

Sources indicated prior to Thursday’s meeting that the home nations, France and Italy were ready to commit to Project Light, rather than the Nations Championship. By securing the investment from In Front Sports, World Rugby have created a positive dilemma, but it may not be enough to prevent the European elite going their own way.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont has admitted that 'not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward' over the Nations Championship proposal

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont has admitted that ‘not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward’ over the Nations Championship proposal

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