March 3, 2019 / 6:53 PM / 23 days ago

Beaumont calls meeting to discuss World Rugby plans

LONDON (Reuters) - World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has called a meeting to discuss the future of the game at international level following widespread criticism of the governing body’s proposals for a world league.

FILE PHOTO: World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont delivers a speech during a kick-off event to mark one year to go to the Rugby World Cup 2019, in Tokyo, Japan September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Leading figures from all of rugby’s ‘tier-one’ countries, along with Fiji, Japan and player representatives, will meet at the end of the month with Beaumont insisting that no decisions have yet been taken about the league.

In a statement from World Rugby on Sunday, Beaumont, the former England captain, said: “In light of continued speculation and commentary, I am convening a meeting of Chairmen and CEOs from tier one unions, Fiji and Japan and player representatives in Dublin later this month to consider the way forward for an annual international competition.

“Contrary to reports, no decisions have been made. This is an ongoing and complex process with multiple stakeholders, some with differing views.

“Only by working together in the interests of the global game can we achieve something truly impactful in this important area for rugby’s future global growth.

“I look forward to a constructive debate with my colleagues and productive outcomes.”

Beaumont’s move comes amid media reports that player welfare could be compromised by an increased programme of internationals in a planned global league and that smaller rugby nations, like Georgia and Pacific island teams, could be marginalized.

Pacific Island players are considering a motion to boycott this year’s World Cup in Japan after media reports suggesting a proposed shake-up of the international game could exclude minor nations.

The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) body said on Saturday that their 600-strong membership of mostly Europe-based professionals were “discussing and debating” a motion brought by senior test players.

On its website, the PRPW said “the call for a boycott is a ‘legitimate player protest’ at World Rugby’s reported plans to exclude the Pacific for as long as twelve seasons from a new TV-driven world league of the top 12 Test teams.”

Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris

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