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Qatar a step closer to hosting rugby Nations Championship

If Qatar wins the right to host rugby's Nations Championship, the games will take place at Lusail Stadium, seen here during the football World Cup in 2022 Fabideciria/Alamy via Reuters
If Qatar wins the right to host rugby's Nations Championship, the games will take place at Lusail Stadium, seen here during the football World Cup in 2022
  • Two months to negotiate $1bn proposal
  • ‘Superbowl of rugby’ starts in 2026
  • Qatar Airways lined up as sponsor

Qatar has been given a two-month period of exclusivity to negotiate a deal to bring rugby’s Nations Championship to the Gulf state, according to reports.

Last month Doha’s sport-focused Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy proposed an £800 million ($1 billion) eight-year deal to stage a six-match finals series, involving all 12 tier-one nations, starting from 2026.

The new bi-annual rugby union competition will feature the current Six Nations: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and France; the Sanzaar union: South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina – and two other teams, most likely Fiji and Japan.



Dubbed the ‘Superbowl of rugby’, the tournament would be spread over three days. It would take place in the 89,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which was used for the Fifa World Cup final in 2022.

“In bidding for rugby’s Nations Championship, Qatar is probably trying to secure a first-mover advantage ahead of Dubai and other regional rivals,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in France.

Reports emerged in February about a potential £60 million ($76 million) investment by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, in English Premiership rugby clubs Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers, Gloucester and Northampton Saints.

Flag carrier Qatar Airways has been lined up as the headline sponsor of the proposed tournament, according to a report in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, which said marketing company Pitch International would be tasked with selling the television rights to a global audience.

Any decision would have to be rubber stamped by governing bodies from the southern and northern hemisphere, Six Nations Rugby and Sanzaar.

In 2027, Qatar will stage FIBA’s basketball World Cup. The Asian Games will then return to Doha in 2030, while speculation surrounds a potential bid for the 2036 Olympics.

“Sports tourism is an intrinsic part of Qatar’s national development plans,” said Chadwick.

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