The Rugby Europe Board of Directors has announced that as of the 2023 season, there will be a new format for the Championship. The concept behind the new development is to increase interest in the sport as a total. It could also bring new punters to the vaults of Asian bookmakers and their European counterparts, as there will be more options available. All of the changes refer to tournament B.
From six to eight
We knew it up to now as Six Nations B. As of 2023, there will be 8 nations competing instead of 6. As Russia has been suspended indefinitely for known reasons, the three nations that will join Georgia, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, and Spain, will be Belgium, Germany, and Poland.
According to the Head of Competitions, Philippe Tuccelli, the extension is aimed at developing European rugby at the highest level and increasing the interest in REC from a sporting point of view by creating more spectacle and expectations on who will win the annual title.
The previous arrangement required the participants to face each other in a round-robin style. After the expansion, there will be two Pools formed. Pool A will consist of Georgia, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany. Romania, Portugal, Belgium, and Poland will form pool B. A total of 20 matches will be played, with each team showing up in five. There will be four round-robin weekends in February, followed by the playoff matches in March.
Every 2 seasons there will be an evaluation of the results. The nation that accumulated the least number of points will be relegated to the Trophy Division, while the top team from the second-tier competition will advance to tournament B. Since all three teams that will participate in the 2023 league will be promoted from Trophy, it will be interesting to see which nations will take their place and give new opponents to Ukraine, Lithuania, and Switzerland.
A new dynamic
Rugby Europe’s CEO Florent Marty also announced a new business strategy with media coverage that will provide both a better television product and an improved narrative for fans, sponsors, and broadcast partners. Additionally, as more countries are represented, more sponsors will want to invest in continental rugby. The core of the strategy also relies on extensive digital content on social networks to develop a much larger fan base.
It is an inherent feature of every sport to increase its popularity and upgrade what it offers to the general public. The question of whether the new format will succeed in fulfilling this task is for future assessment. What is a certainty, is that there will be a need for professional betting advice to sort out the additional options and the profitability potentials.