That is an extraordinary investment that raises cynicism on multiple levels, but here’s two that come to mind.
First, have the four Sanzaar countries conveniently left Japan and Fiji out of their club to increase their take, with neither likely to be given entry into the Rugby Championship any time soon?

Second, just what is Qatar getting for that $1.5 billion? As mentioned above, it would only really be four meaningful games of rugby over eight years.

Six Nations and Sanzaar teams stand to rake in $1.5billion.

Six Nations and Sanzaar teams stand to rake in $1.5billion.Credit: PA

Perhaps if everyone involved hadn’t signed non-disclosure agreements we would all be enlightened as to the details behind this generosity. But in the absence of that information, we can only assume that Qatar is buying something a bit more substantial.

Is that money needed so badly that it must be accepted?

That seems like a strange question given rugby’s well-documented financial struggles in this part of the world, but a failure to control costs is a different issue to raising revenue.

As everyone knows, Rugby Australia is currently on the cusp of two enormous revenue-raising events: the British and Irish Lions tour and the Rugby World Cup, even though the 20-80 minority split with World Rugby for Rugby World Cup Australia Ltd, the company set up to deliver the men’s and women’s tournaments, seems a bit light on the Australian side.

Those two events should erase RA’s current liabilities with something to spare.

Across the ditch, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said this in an interview with SENZ on Wednesday: “There’s never been more revenue in the [New Zealand] game. Total revenue across the game now is in excess of $NZ330million ($306m).”

In 2022, NZ Rugby reported revenue of $NZ270m, so there has been an explosion in revenue growth in Australia’s closest partner.


The Northern Hemisphere unions, clearly still recovering from the Covid years, have their own challenges, but the dance with Qatar looks rather like an attempt to provide a return to investors (private equity firm CVC owns 14.3 per cent of the Six Nations) than do what is best for the game.

Surely an alternative could have been found for the last weekend of Nations Championship playoffs in the existing rugby cathedrals of Europe, or even in newer territories such as Spain?

Are we to believe that a tidy sum couldn’t have been made by going down that route, which would have given the new Nations Championship concept a far greater degree of credibility?

Perhaps the massive sums of money involved will bulldoze all those reservations to the side, but rugby bosses can’t say they haven’t been warned.

Returning to the football theme, these are the words of former Ireland and Manchester United player Roy Keane, when the World Cup was held in Qatar in 2022.

“The World Cup shouldn’t be here … …you’ve got a country, the way they treat migrant workers, gay people … you can’t treat people like that.”

Watch all the action from the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, with every match ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.