After an impressive career, one that included 26 Championship wins, 12 Grand Slams, 23 Triple Crowns and a Rugby World Cup Cup victory, English Rugby has announced that it will retire from the sport after the World Cup finals in New Zealand.
At a special Twickenham media conference, called with just five hours' notice for the press, English Rugby shocked the game with an announcement no-one saw coming.
"It's been a splendid innings," said the 140-year-old sporting institution. "But it's time to move on and do something new. I've always wanted to go out on my terms and not be forced to end for other reasons. So with that in mind I wish to announce that after this year's World Cup, English Rugby will cease its involvement with world rugby."
The decision has taken the rugby world by surprise and it seems no other goeverning bodies or individuals were aware of English Rugby's intentions. The abrupt announcement is likely to upset sponsors and broadcasters, who now face the prospect of future World Cups and Six Nations without England. As of press time it is unclear if the 2012 Six Nations will revert to a Five Nations or if another nation will be asked to enter.
The BBC, who hold the rights to the Six Nations in the UK, is said to be 'seriously considering' ending its broadcasting deal as with current budget cuts it might not be able to justify the expense of showing a tournament that has suddenly lost the biggest section of its audience. Some of the BBC's main English presenters, such as John Inverdale and the fanatical England fan Ian Robertson, are said to be distraught at the news.
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