World Rugby, the international governing body for rugby union, has effectively dashed hopes of an official 12-a-side competition being launched on the same day that World 12s, the organisation seeking to create the short-form tournament, announced the appointment of a chief executive to oversee its plan.
World 12s was launched last month with the aim of bringing £250 million ($345.1 million) to the global game over a five-year period and staging an inaugural men's tournament in August 2022.
However, the chances of that competition taking place next year were quashed today as World Rugby "do not wish to explore the concept further at this time" after consulting with its stakeholders.
The federation added that the sport's priority was "advancing discussions" on a "harmonious annual international calendar".
World Rugby told BBC Sport: "This is a position endorsed by the World Rugby executive committee and professional game committee, which includes representatives from across the elite men's and women's game."
Rowena Samarasinhe has just been appointed as the chief executive of World 12s to oversee the tournament’s establishment, development and expansion, as well as to work with global stakeholders to “enhance and complement the 12s game”.
Samarasinhe said: “World 12s has been, and continues to be, in regular contact with World Rugby.”
The organisation told the BBC that it is not "raising the white flag" and outlined that the issue is more around the timing of the fledgling competition than the concept itself.
Samarasinhe added: “The challenges around the international calendar are well-known.
“World 12s is a long-term project and will grow over the years. We are optimistic that, even within the restrictions posed by the current calendar, World 12s will be able to host a tournament in August 2022 that includes a number of the game's leading players, who will not be impacted by fixture clashes at that time.
“World 12s will launch its first women's tournament in 2023. This has the potential to be a gamechanger for women's rugby, and will not face the same calendar challenges as the men's game.
“World 12s has always stated its commitment to working closely with all the game's stakeholders to build an event that showcases the best talent while bringing new audiences and significant investment to the sport.”
The World 12s board and executive team is made up of former RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie as chairman, former NZRU chief executive Steve Tew (non-executive director) and former chairman of the WRU Gareth Davies (non-executive director).
The 12-a-side rugby union tournament is backed by a UK-based financial consortium and will be played around the existing global rugby union calendar, with the competition to move destination each year.
The intention is for players to be selected for eight franchised teams via auction, with a planned debut edition of the tournament next August expected to feature 192 of the world’s best male players from tier one and tier two nations
It has effectively been designed to serve as rugby union’s version of cricket’s Indian Premier League, the prestigious Twenty20 domestic tournament.