Steve Tew believes the bigger rugby nations are trying to expand the game.
The New Zealand Rugby chief executive leaves the role after a 12-year tenure, with the international calendar still largely the same as it was when he took over.
Tew was a backer of the Nations Cup proposal, which failed to launch.
He told the Radio Sport Breakfast England, Australia, France and South Africa are like New Zealand and want to grow the game, even with the risks associated.
"The smaller countries like Scotland, Ireland and Italy are very protectionist and unfortunately have too much power."
He says there were concerns from those countries they'd be relegated to Six Nations status.
Tew says that other countries want to help the smaller countries grow the game.
"The bigger nations have actually got a good eye for what's going on in the rest of the world and we're working really hard to give those emerging nations the opportunities that they deserve."