Qatar ‘eyes’ fresh-from-the-oven rugby event


Qatar to bid for rugby tournament Image: Coliseum GSVA

Rugby could be headed to the Middle East, with Qatar reportedly making a shock pitch to host the newly minted Nations Championship.

‘The New Zealand Herald’ stated that Qatar has proposed a three-day event, tentatively referred to as the ‘Superbowl of Rugby’, to host the deciding fixtures, starting in 2026.

The World Rugby Nations Championship is an upcoming biannual international rugby union competition which is scheduled to take place in the existing men’s July and November international windows with the inaugural edition taking place in 2026. The competition will consist of 12 teams, involving the current Six Nations (England, France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) and SANZAAR (Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand) unions, in addition to two further unions (widely reported to be Fiji and Japan).

‘The New Zealand Herald’ further stated that it is reported that Qatar’s bid would make use of stadiums and infrastructure already in place from the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup™.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup™ was the 22nd FIFA World Cup™, the world championship for national football teams organized by FIFA. It took place in Qatar from November 20th-December 18th, 2022, after the country was awarded the hosting rights in 2010.

The proposal would have Qatar play host for eight years and stage the first four editions of the Nations Championship final. That would mean a final, as well as matchups from second down to sixth, to be played over three days by all the 12 teams.

Qatar’s bid has promised commercial returns of £800 million ($1.68 billion).

The initial proposal is understood to have been sent to the Six Nations and the SANZAAR unions recently with a seven-day deadline to engage in negotiations.

Dublin (Ireland)-based the Six Nations Championship is an annual international men’s rugby union competition between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. It is also the oldest sports tournament ever between the Home Nations. The championship holders are Ireland, who won the 2024 tournament.

Sydney (Australia)-based SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina Rugby) is the body which oversees Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in rugby union. SANZAAR meets annually and is composed of the head honchos from its member unions.

The Super Rugby is a men’s professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It has previously included teams from Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

The Rugby Championship, formerly known as the Tri Nations Series, is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said it is “not in a position to comment further”.

Echoing similar views, the SANZAAR said “we do not comment on commercial matters, or engage with speculation.”

Wellington (New Zealand)-based the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is one of New Zealand’s largest sports organizations with a team committed to ensuring that the national game is run smoothly and effectively at all levels all over New Zealand.

The Nations Championship will have 12 teams from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres face off in a league-style competition, taking place between the Rugby World Cup cycles.

The Rugby World Cup is a men’s rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams, the winners of which are recognized as the world champions of the sport. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport’s international governing body.

The fixtures will be used to give context to the Test matches played in the Southern Hemisphere’s July window and the corresponding November period for the Northern Hemisphere.

Each nation would host three matches in its own window, before touring the rival hemisphere for the three away matches in the opposite.

The 12 teams will be split into two Conferences of six, with the two leaders at the end of the November window to meet in a final to decide a champion.

New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Argentina will represent the Southern Hemisphere, while England, Ireland, France, Wales, Scotland, and Italy are confirmed to be playing on behalf of the North.

Two more nations, believed to be Japan and Fiji, will be invited into the inaugural competition and will take the Southern Hemisphere’s Conference total to six.

However, while the competition has on one hand been welcome due to the context of matches outside of a Rugby Championship, the Six Nations or the World Cup, it has also come under fire for further establishing the idea of an elite group.

Limiting the total to only 12 teams will probably mean up-and-coming sides like Samoa (country in Oceania), Tonga (country in Oceania), US, Canada, Georgia (Eastern European country), and Romania among others limited in their opportunities to face top-tier opposition outside World Cup years.

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