Long renowned for its festive spirit and steeped in traditions, rugby is rapidly turning into “sport business”. As evidenced by the appetite aroused by the oldest of its competitions, the Six Nations Tournament, at CVC Capital Partners.
According to several British media, the investment fund, which took shares last December in the English rugby championship, would, according to the BBC, offer to acquire 27% of the capital of the company which organizes the tournament for 200 million pounds ( 230 million euros). CVC would thus influence the commercial operation of the event, but not the organization of the matches. Each federation participating in the tournament (France, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy) would receive 100 million pounds if the operation were to materialize, says the British channel.
The HVAC offer (which is not the only one on the table, according to some sources) comes as World Rugby, the company created by the international federation to maximize income from matches between countries, seeks to create a “championship of nations” on a global scale, in which the tournament is supposed to fit.
Several federations, such as Ireland and Scotland, appear to be opposed to the project, as does the organization which represents international players. To convince them, World Rugby puts forward increased financial income for the federations. But the check offered by CVC Partners can be just as tempting, while preserving the current structure of the tournament.
The nations championship project is on the agenda of a meeting organized this Thursday in Dublin, headquarters of the international federation, but there is no doubt that the CVC offer will also be included in the discussions.
For rugby fans, the risk in both cases would be a renegotiation of TV rights which would result in the end of the unencrypted broadcast of matches. However, this will not be the case in France, the XV of France being included in the list of “Major events” fixed by decree in the sports code, and whose dissemination must be unencrypted.