Changes to Women's Six Nations format rejected by council

Proposals to alter the format of the Women's Six Nations have been rejected.

The competition will remain unchanged after the Six Nations Council confirmed its continued support for the present format.

It had been suggested that 2013 champions Ireland would join England and France in a top division, with Italy, Scotland and Wales in a second.

The proposals were understood to be driven by financial costs associated with staging women's internationals.

Former Wales captain Non Evans had warned that splitting the women's Six Nations  would signal "the end of women's 15-a-side rugby as we know it."

Some nations have refocused funding to Sevens in preparation for its inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games.

England, winners of seven successive Six Nations titles, rested 17 players for this season's campaign in order to concentrate on the Sevens World Cup. Gary Street's side ultimately finished third, behind champions Ireland and France.

Evans, who won 87 caps for Wales, added: "If I was 10 years younger I would be gearing all my training into playing Sevens and making it into Team GB for 2016 - that for me would be the pinnacle of the sport.

"The platform is huge for the women's game - bigger than anything we have now.

"But if we don't have big marquee tournaments like the Six Nations, 15s will be marginalised for women - that would be very sad."