World Rugby vice-chairman calls for fresh 10-year blueprint to avoid game's financial 'ruin'

Clubs and unions must act to stave off financial ruin in rugby before next year's World Cup according to the vice-chairman of World Rugby Agustin Pichot. Keith Tsuji - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

The vice-chairman of World Rugby has warned the international game is under threat and has urged unions and clubs to work out a 10-year plan before the 2019 World Cup.

Agustin Pichot said the game had to be saved from financial problems starting with a meeting in Sydney later this month before the tournament in Japan next year.

World Rugby announced an agreement for a global calendar up to 2032 following a meeting in San Francisco 18 months ago, but Pichot said there was a need to review those plans.

"If you ask me as a businessman, the business side of it isn't working. If you ask me as the playing side, it's not working," former Argentina captain and scrum-half Pichot told the Guardian.

"Is the international game under threat? I think it is. Look at the balance sheets of some nations and you can see exactly where we stand. By the 2019 World Cup we need to have a blueprint for the next 10 years.

"On a scale of one to 10, I think we're four out of 10 now (in terms of finding a solution). We need to push that needle from four to at least six or seven. I'm not going to be an accomplice to rugby's ruin."

Under the agreement in March 2016, the June international window will move to the first three weeks of July to allow the Southern Hemisphere provincial championship, Super Rugby, to be completed first.

There will also be a minimum of a 39 percent increase in matches between top and second-tier nations over the 2020-2032 period, World Rugby had said.

However, Pichot said a rethink was also required to ensure player welfare was preserved.

"Players cannot carry on playing as they are now. You cannot have them playing 30 competitive club and international games just because you want bums on seats," Pichot added.

"I've been a professional player so I understand how it goes but you have to take care of the athlete. The first principle is the players' welfare because they inspire everyone, both us now and the next generation."