Cape Town — SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere's rugby governing body, has expressed its disappointment at World Rugby's decision to scrap the proposed Nations Championship plans.
World Rugby announced its intention to introduce the concept in a statement in March this year, saying that the championship would comprise a 12-team league without smaller nations like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
But on Wednesday, the global governing body backtracked on its decision, saying it "undertook this important project with the best interests of the global game at heart".
SANZAAR responded with a statement on Thursday, saying it was a "missed opportunity to globally align international rugby" .
"The SANZAAR member unions - Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - despite having some concerns over elements of what was presented, most notably promotion/relegation, had all signed the Offer Letters to enter into the next phase of due diligence with the aim of working through the concerns with all interested parties," SANZAAR said via a statement.
SANZAAR chairperson Brent Impey stated: "The Nations Championship was a golden opportunity to grow the game internationally but is seemingly lost. SANZAAR remains convinced that such a revamped international calendar is the right course of action supported by professional cross-border competitions such as Super Rugby and the various European premierships.
"All SANZAAR unions signed the letter of offer with World Rugby to continue negotiations. SANZAAR has been consistent in its support of the concept as we believed that this was an important decision for the future of the world game.
"Furthermore, the ability to have promotion/relegation in both hemispheres as proposed by World Rugby is a principle position with which SANZAAR agreed. That would have created a meaningful pathway and aspirations for emerging nations. "While World Rugby has led discussions around the Nations Championship concept, SANZAAR and its member unions, have been in constant and positive dialogue with our broadcast partners to secure the future of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship."
On Wednesday, World Rugby said via a statement: "Despite strong progress in collaboration with unions, competition owners and international rugby players, including full engagement on the detailed process of financial due diligence, a lack of consensus on key issues, particularly the timing and format of promotion and relegation, left World Rugby with no alternative but to discontinue the project."