A new international rugby competition called World 12s has been launched with the aim of enabling the best male and female players to compete annually around the world.
The inaugural men’s tournament, which will be contested by teams containing 12 players, will be staged in England next August with the women’s event taking place for the first time a year later.
It is hoped £250 million will be generated by the competition over the next five years, while also attracting fans.
Organisers intend for 192 men’s players from tier-one and tier-two nations to be picked via auction to represent eight franchises that consist of 24 players and are coached by established names.
The format will consist of round-robin games before a knockout phase determines the winners.
Equal prize money will be offered for the men’s and women’s competitions, and the expectation is that the World 12s will be staged in different global destinations.
Backers for the new concept include New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen, who is a World 12s ambassador alongside ex-South Africa boss Jake White, and former New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew, a World 12s non-executive director.
“World 12s is a natural evolution for rugby union,” chairman Ian Ritchie said.
“We feel that this is a game for our changing, fast-paced world that can excite a global fan base in the way that we have seen with the IPL or most recently The Hundred in cricket.
“In bringing together the most exciting players under the stewardship of some of the brightest rugby minds with commercial backing, we are looking to propel rugby forward and lay a positive roadmap for how the game is perceived for future generations.”
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