A new 12-a-side tournament has launched with the aim of bringing £250 million into global rugby over the next five years, as well as attracting a wider global fanbase to the game.
World 12s will see the world's best male and female players compete in franchised teams, with the inaugural men's competition kicking off in August 2022 in England. Selection into the eight franchises will be done via auction, each consisting of 24 players from tier one and tier two nations and coached by some of the world's leading coaches. The competition will have a round-robin format before knockout stages to crown the champions.
The women's competition will start from 2023 to prevent clashing with the Rugby World Cup 2021, which was postponed until 2022.
World 12s will also help aid the development of rugby around the world, with each franchise required to select at least two players from tier two nations and one international U20s player.
"World 12s is a natural evolution for rugby union," World 12s 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.
"Early and informal discussions with World Rugby, unions, clubs and player associations have been constructive, and in announcing today we can continue our consultative conversations and collaborations with the relevant stakeholders."
World 12s non-executive director Steve Tew added: "This is a truly exciting venture in the development of our global game. We believe rugby needs a new, innovative, fast-flowing, and exciting concept, but one that remains authentic to rugby's roots. We have assembled a strong team of rugby leaders with a wealth of rugby and commercial experience, and we look forward to the continued discussions with global stakeholders."