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Biennial World Cup on the cards from 2026?

Whilst chatter around the prospects of a global season is nothing new, the efforts to attain this goal certainly gained momentum since the arrival of Covid-19. With many countries suspending their playing calendars, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for the North and South to align and streamline their schedules in order to ensure that teams meet on level footing more regularly, as opposed to the end v beginning of season clashes we are currently used to.

Alignment of the seasons or a global calendar is one thing, but the idea of a biennial World Cup (World Cup every 2 years) is an entirely different ball game. FIFA has previously considered the idea themselves, and in 2021, World Rugby Chief executive Alan Gilpin floated the idea, whilst similarly noting the difficulties that would come with organizing such a competition.

"Staging the Rugby World Cup every two years instead of every four is an "interesting concept", but that all stakeholders would have to be given their say before the idea was even considered."

I believe that playing such a tournament every two years would defeat the occasion itself. The 4 year cycle is engrained in most sports and in rugby its part of the excitement as you watch teams build and alter their preparations as the cycle draws closer to the next World Cup. The governing body had these discussions in 2021 and reports are now surfacing that such a tournament could be implemented as early as 2026.

The tournament would differ from the current World Cup in that it would be broken up into two tiers of 12 teams as opposed to the World Cup which features 20 teams spread across 4 pools. The tournament would be called the 'Nations Championship' and would feature all of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Japan and Fiji in the top tier.

The second tier would feature the likes of Samoa, Tonga, Canada, Uruguay, Chile, USA, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Namibia and Georgia and this tier of the competition would be called the "Challenger Division" This division would likely already get underway in 2024, after the World Cup in France.

Whilst the notion of away games for the North in July and the South in November is appealing and a Grand final at the end of it all is appealing. I still believe World Rugby is lost in the way their approaching the game and attempting to make it more appealing for fans. How we went from a global season to a mini-world cup every two years baffles me. The allure of the big tests will fade as they see more regular competition and I don't think this will serve the game well in the long run.

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