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Coronavirus: Former RFU chief suggests ‘Cup of World Rugby’

PUBLISHED: 07:52 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 07:52 27 May 2020

Former RFU chief executive Francis Baron (right) and then Director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew during a press conference in 2009

Former RFU chief executive Francis Baron (right) and then Director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew during a press conference in 2009

PA Archive/PA Images

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron believes a ‘Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby’ next summer could significantly ease the economic hardship facing the global game because of the pandemic.

Baron has drawn up an independent financial rescue plan and at its heart is a 16-team invitational tournament to be held in the UK and Ireland next June and July, using the 2015 World Cup hosted by England as a template.

Staging the competition for 31 matches over six weeks would mean postponing the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, scheduled for next July, but Baron thinks it is a necessary sacrifice which would benefit all unions.

“The RFU should take a leadership position and propose to other major unions and World Rugby that a special one-off tournament be held in the UK and Ireland in June and July next year,” Baron told Telegraph Sport.

“Its key selling point is that all the money raised would be for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world.

“I have talked to one or two senior colleagues and they all think the country would get right behind it, as they did with the tournament in England in 2015.

“I think the four Home Unions would support it because a number of big matches would be held in each of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“The key will be winning the support of the southern hemisphere unions but with everyone facing horrendous financial challenges, this is a bold and ambitious plan to raise large amounts of new cash from which they will be major beneficiaries.

“The 2015 World Cup in England generated net profits for the game of around £400million. I believe this proposed special event could generate a net profit for distribution to unions of £200-250m. This would be in addition to the £80m World Rugby support funding package already in place for the global game.”


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