Ireland to feature in new biennial tournament with Six Nations and SANZAAR teams

The new tournament, which will be operated by Six Nations Rugby and SANZAAR is set to start in 2026

A new biennial international tournament featuring teams from the Six Nations and the southern hemisphere is set to start in 2026.

Six Nations Rugby has announced it is working with SANZAAR, the organisation which includes South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, on a new competition to take place in the existing July and November international windows.

The tournament will feature all the Six Nations and SANZAAR teams, with two further spaces reserved for invitational unions to join the southern hemisphere group.

Six Nations Rugby and SANZAAR will own and operate the tournament, which will take place in alternating years, between British and Irish Lions tours and the Rugby World Cup.


The new competition will not affect the club calendar and Six Nations Rugby insisted players had been heavily involved in the process, amid growing concerns over burnout and calls for greater focus on rest and recovery periods between domestic and international commitments.

It said in a statement: “Involved at every stage of developing the new competition has been the international rugby players.

“This connection has been key in supporting the wider conversations around the club and international calendar taking place in parallel, and to ensure player welfare has remained a fundamental priority in all decision making.”

Alongside the new tournament, World Rugby is set to also create a second-tier competition made up of teams from Europe and the rest of the world, which will eventually allow for promotion and relegation matches.

Six Nations Rugby said the tournament would provide “a stronger narrative around the July and November windows” that would “genuinely excite players and bring new fans to the game”.