Minnows Japan enjoyed an incredible run to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals last year ©Getty Images

World Rugby is focusing on delivering a meaningful competition model for unions outside of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship.

Hosted in London last week, a workshop followed a detailed Rugby World Cup debrief with teams in December and is the second step on the journey to identifying key principles of a potential global competition model for teams outside of the two traditional annual competitions, with possible implementation in 2021.  

It was attended by World Rugby members and high-performance and coaching personnel from nations including Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, Uruguay, and the United States, alongside representatives from all six World Rugby regions, South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (SANZAAR), the Six Nations and International Rugby Players.

The 2019 World Cup saw Japan become the first Asian side to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The key outcome from the meeting was alignment in principle on exploring a competition model to bring greater context and structure to the international calendar for emerging nations.

The goal is to provide a merit-based process for linking the pathway from regional tournaments into a high-performance level global competition.

The United States is one of 13 tier two rugby nations, but has enjoyed huge success in the sevens arena ©Getty Images
The United States is one of 13 tier two rugby nations, but has enjoyed huge success in the sevens arena ©Getty Images

"Enhancing competition opportunity, meaning and competitiveness for our unions outside of the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship is critical to the future growth, prosperity and sustainability of the global game," World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.

"We must evolve and examine both opportunities and challenges from the fans and marketplace's perspectives, and not solely the performance imperative.

"It was great to see so much buy-in from the high-performance personnel, coaches, players and chief executives - all agreed that meaningful change is required.

"This hugely productive and positive meeting demonstrated the collective alignment and excitement across the game to achieve something special that will truly enable us to better support and sustain the needs of our unions, driving a more competitive global game and Rugby World Cup, which is great for unions, players, fans, broadcasters and commercial partners.

"I would like to thank everyone for their full contributions."

The workshop outcomes will be presented to the World Rugby Regional Rugby Committee and Executive Committees in March, with a view to accelerating focused consultation ahead of a preferred model being considered by the World Rugby Council in May.