Pichot having to fight for promotion/relegation in World League

World Rugby vice-president Agustin Pichot has reiterated his desire for the proposed World League to feature two divisions of 12 nations and promotion and relegation between them.

This goes against the details reported by the New Zealand Herald on Thursday, where it was suggested the Pacific Nations would be locked out of the 12 team competition for at least 10 years.

Speaking to New Zealand’s Radio Sport, Pichot said his personal values are if a team is good enough, they need to have a pathway to the elite level.

“The whole idea of it was not only to save international rugby [by providing more regular meaningful games], but also, for me more importantly, for the growth of the game.”

The former Argentina halfback said he was always backed the 12+12 model with promotion/relegation.

“If not I couldn’t go to the Georgias and the Fijis and the Samoas or any team that could be in that second tier, to tell them to carry on investing because at some stage you’re going to have the pathway, the chance of competing in the top league.

“If you close it off, then what about the growth of the game, where are we going.

“Regardless of whoever those twelve teams are, what about the rest.”

He said the discussion around the proposal was still very open, with voting on the tournament structure set to happen in the next few weeks.

“What I sense at the moment is a big political fight, and it has to do with promotion/relegation.

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“I know where a lot of countries stand because we speak regularly, so hopefully we can get there.

“If we don’t get there it’s going to be clear why we are not getting there.”

Pichot said somebody is holding back the growth of the game by opposing promotion/relegation, but wouldn’t elaborate on who or why that was.

“Every international team has its own challenges towards the economics of it.”

He said World Rugby believe the competition will be sustainable if they get the revenue share right.

Pichot said he wants the 12 teams selected for the premier division to earn their places on merit, which would most likely mean a spot for Fiji who are 9th in the current world rankings.

He agreed with the backlash against the idea that the Pacific nations could be excluded from the World League.

“It’s not only that, what about Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, Georgia, Romania.”

He said he was not at all confident the competition would start next year, and said contrary to the Herald’s reporting that attaining a broadcaster hasn’t even crossed their minds yet.

“We are still struggling with the format of the competition and promotion/relegation.”

Pichot was unhappy with the way the news broke, with no word from World Rugby.

“We [at World Rugby] should be telling what we are doing, we should be open and transparent.”

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