Australasian rugby could go broke: NZ boss

Daniel Gilhooly
Re-elected World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont wants an annual global rugby tournament

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey says rugby in the southern hemisphere could be "gone" if Bill Beaumont doesn't implement changes in his second term as World Rugby's boss.

Englishman Beaumont, who saw off the challenge of Argentina's Agustin Pichot to retain the chairmanship, immediately announced the concept of a new global tournament which could lead to two consecutive months of international action.

That may be attractive to rugby officials in New Zealand and Australia, whose bottom lines have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them in desperate need of fresh revenue streams.

Both countries voted for Pichot, as did SANZAAR colleagues South Africa and Argentina.

Impey said it has reached the point where Beaumont's next moves must be transformative for the sake of rugby's survival south of the equator.

"The reason New Zealand and the other SANZAAR countries voted against Bill is there's been no progress for a couple of years in areas such as revenue sharing, eligibility or the rules of the game," Impey told NewsTalk ZB.

"COVID-19 produces a chance for a total reset. While Bill has won and we've now got to support the winner, that is on the condition that there is fundamental change.

"We can't carry on the way we're going. Look at the finances of Rugby Australia, for example. It has got to change.

"If these guys don't get on and make change, if it's four more years of the same, we'll be gone."

Beaumont said he is keen to resurrect plans for an annual competition, possibly with promotion and relegation, which were dropped last year.

He stressed any changes wouldn't result in any compromise to the European Six Nations' dates or format.

Instead, Beaumont said he is looking at combining the two international windows, in July and November, that have existed since rugby went professional.

"There could well be an appetite for putting the two windows together. It could be north going south in one month and then immediately afterwards the south would come north the next month," Beaumont said.

"But bear in mind we have to take all stakeholders with us. You have to take the club game and European game with us."

Beaumont said a subsidiary competition featuring emerging nations could run in conjunction and feature promotion and relegation.

Another issue Beaumont has promised to address is international eligibility rules in which some tier one players may become entitled to represent tier two nations.