New World 12s tournament proposed to launch in England next summer

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World 12s chairman Ian Ritchie
Former RFU boss Ian Ritchie is the World 12s chairman

Plans have been unveiled for a new 12-a-side rugby competition proposed to take place in England next August.

The new tournament, World 12s, is intended to feature 192 of the world’s best players, picked via auction to represent eight franchises.

World 12s Limited says the competition will take place over three weekends in a round-robin format before knockouts.

“World 12s is a natural evolution for rugby union,” said the organisation’s chairman, Ian Ritchie.

“We feel that this is a game for our changing, fast-paced world that can excite a global fanbase in the way that we have seen with the IPL [Indian Premier League] or most recently The Hundred in cricket.”

Ritchie, formerly chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, is joined on World 12’s board by former Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies and former New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew.

World 12s say they hope to inject as much as £250m into rugby union through the tournament and will offer equal prize money for men and women, with the women’s competition proposed for 2023.

It is intended that most players will be selected from Tier One nations but every franchise will be required to select at least two players from Tier Two nations and one under-20s international player.

World 12s also said “informal” conversations with World Rugby, clubs, unions and players had been “constructive”.

World Rugby insisted extensive talks with the tournament organisers were vital.

“We are aware of the proposed new World 12s competition,” World Rugby said.

“While we welcome innovative thinking with the potential to advance the reach, attractiveness and growth of the sport, comprehensive consultation with the organisers is required to understand the viability of the concept, particularly in the context of ongoing global calendar discussions and the priority area of player welfare.”

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