World Rugby Undergoes a Major Shake-Up: What You Need to Know


World Rugby Undergoes a Major Shake-Up: What You Need to Know

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World Rugby has recently made a significant announcement, marking what they refer to as an “exciting new era” in the sport. This development centers around the introduction of a bi-annual international competition scheduled to kick off in 2026. This competition will be composed of a top division featuring 12 teams from both the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship in the southern hemisphere.

In an effort to globalize and diversify, two additional countries, potentially Fiji and Japan, will be invited to join the ranks of the top division, bringing the total to a dozen teams. Matches are set to be played in the months of July and November.

A secondary division, also comprising twelve teams, will be established with a system of promotion and relegation in place, and it will commence operation in 2030.

In a groundbreaking move for women’s rugby, World Rugby’s decision ensures clearly defined global and regional player release periods for the first time, eliminating any overlap with domestic competitions. This sets the stage for a more harmonious structure aimed at fostering opportunity and growth, in anticipation of the expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup scheduled for 2025.

These sweeping reforms are the result of extensive consultations with various stakeholders in the professional game, including regions, unions, domestic and international competitions. The decision-making process also involved a detailed evaluation of the playing, commercial, and fan landscape.

The implementation of this comprehensive package will continue to involve open dialogue with all relevant parties. World Rugby Chairperson Sir Bill Beaumont expressed the historical significance of this development, stating that it represents the most momentous advancement in the sport since its professionalization.

Beaumont believes that the agreement on the global calendars for both men’s and women’s rugby is a pivotal moment that will set the sport up for collective success. With a sense of anticipation and optimism, he concluded, “We now look forward to an exciting new era for our sport commencing in 2026.


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