The huge financial incentive of £500 million (R9,5 billion) for a 30% stake in the Six Nations Championship by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has set the cat among the pigeons on the eve of a World Rugby meeting about the future of the international game amid controversy over plans for a Nations League.
The former Formula One owners recently secured a 27 per cent share of the Premiership for £200m (3,8 billion) and are also interested in the PRO 14.
The Six Nations would be their first move into international rugby and the offer has been revealed on the eve of a World Rugby-hosted meeting in Dublin in which the controversial Nations League is to be discussed, reported Skynews on Wednesday.
CVC's deal would see the national unions within the Six Nations tournament receive a windfall of investment, but the unions would lose some control of the championship, with CVC then overseeing the tournament's commercial rights.
It is understood the CVC deal is just one of several options being considered to help launch 'Project Light' ‒ the proposal for all the teams in the tournament to pool their commercial revenue. It has been stressed that outside investment is not needed to get 'Project Light' off the ground.
The challenge facing World Rugby on Thursday is to convince the attending Six Nations teams ‒ all tier one sides plus Fiji and Japan will be present ‒ that their plans for an annual global tournament climaxing in a final is more beneficial than the pooled TV rights deal they are negotiating.
♦ World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont called Thursday's meeting to discuss the future of the international game amid controversy over plans for a Nations League.
A number of players’ unions and some of the game's biggest names have warned of serious player welfare and integrity concerns over World Rugby's proposed new competition structure.
It has been reported that a new global season is due to kick off next year, running until 2032, and discussions have taken place about a new Nations League that would combine 12 international sides from both hemispheres in a competition running through summer and autumn and culminating with play-offs and a final.
The news bandied about last week, however, do not agree with what has been coming from World Rugby who on Thursday in London will also have the challenge to appease some second tier sides that they somehow will be included in the global series.