Terrible idea

No, really:

Rugby union could follow football in proposing plans to stage a men’s World Cup every two years by exploring the idea of a biennial showpiece tournament.

The radical move is “being considered”, admits the chief executive of World Rugby, as the sport’s custodians mark the midway point between the 2019 and 2023 tournaments by mapping out their vision for the future of the game in an extensive interview with Telegraph Sport.

Going the wrong way entirely.

Can’t recall who it was, might have been the England set up, possibly France, who had what I thought was a much, much, better idea. Run it every 4 years, as now. But run something like the Nations Cup at the same time in the same place. Maybe Nations isn’t the right name. But the knock out competition for all the teams that didn’t qualify for the World Cup itself. So that Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Kenya etc etc etc are all sending teams to that second competition to be played in the same country as the World Cup itself. You might even need three tiers, not just the two.

But actually make it all of world rugby is here and in this place for a month, 6 weeks, once every 4 years. Yes, Sikkim v El Salvador would attract a crowd of 2 blokes, three dogs and an empanada salesman but still. If we’re – as they do – going to try and call it all the global celebration of the game then let’s actually make it that.

13 thoughts on “Terrible idea”

  1. Daft idea. And shows all the talk of player welfare is just hot air. Means the end of Lions tours too. Anyone in World Rugby who votes for this should be introduced to the real lions.

  2. “Yes, Sikkim v El Salvador would attract a crowd of 2 blokes, three dogs and an empanada salesman”

    Isn’t there a problem there? These sporting blokes seem to have a reluctance to pay for their own hobby. And all the factotums, trainers, medical staff, officials etc seem to want wages. So who pays for this jamboree? TV rights are going to be worth damn all.

  3. Rugby is in the grip of lunatics (like everything else I suppose).

    This is just the latest lot of balls (though they’re going to stop tackling eventually because of head injuries, and thus end the game, so it probably doesn’t matter anyway).

    This isn’t quite as mad as the new ’12s’ idea – they’re going to hold auctions for players a la IPL and play a shortened version of the gamne with the world’s superstars playing for franchises over a three week period.

    OK, fine. Except what will 12s look like? And how are they going to get the superstars, who are all on £500,000-£1 million contracts playing for clubs in France, Japan and to a lesser extent England, or are contracted to their home unions?

    There are literally no gaps in the worldwide calendar, which means it’;s going to have to be played in season somewhere (and if it’s out of season, that’s when the poor bastard players are supposed to be getting some rest).

    Are the clubs and unions going to release the jewels in their crowns for three weeks so they can play in this challenge to the status quo, or not, risking injury and taking focus away from the main game (and thus TV revenue)? I’d say not.

    The single best thing rugby could do to make the game quicker and more skilful – and that wouldn’t be a bad thing – is ban substitutes (again).

    Currently, 22st props and 18st wingers can play the game – and be very physical – because they can be subbed off after 50 min.

    Get rid of subs and there will be no 18st wingers because no-one can lug that amount of muscle around for 80 min and compete in the final quarter with blokes two stone lighter – we’d go back to the days when 16st was a freak and most were in the region of 14.5-15st.

    Yes, there is the risk of injury fakery (you’d have to allow injury replacements) but all you have to do there is introduce a rule saying that if a player goes off with an injury he can’t play again for a minimum of three weeks. Say it’s for his own benefit, if you need to spin it.

    It would make the game quicker and more exciting – holes would open up towards the end, as players tired – and (possibly) safer (as though we should give a shit about that), and would also allow clubs to be run a bit cheaper – who wants a 50 man squad when only 40 of them are going to get a game?

    But apparently this is unthinkable, or something.

  4. “you’d have to allow injury replacements”. Pity that; my only schoolboy experience of playing in the backs was when we lost our full back to injury in the days before replacements.

  5. @deariem, – sure but obviously the professional game is slightly different to your schoolboy experience. I suppose you could ban all subs, but I don’t think TV audiences would want to watch too many 15 v 13 games (which would happen now and then), and I don’t think clubs (or nations) would accept that livelihoods and modern international honours could hang on whether or not a full back gets a busted leg in a tackle, or a tighthead has to off with a dislocated shoulder. Imagine the World Cup final being effectively decided in the first minute in that way. We could go back to the days of (sh)amateurism and get rid of the RWC I suppose, but not all progress is bad.

  6. “my only schoolboy experience of playing in the backs was when we lost our full back to injury in the days before replacements.”

    I seem to recall in my prep school rugby days (15 a side, full contact) that we once lost our full back to concussion during a game against another school. I have no recollection as to whether we were allowed a replacement, but I do know the game continued once he’d been hauled off the pitch and sent off to hospital.

  7. Don’t know much about the structure of rugby, but I’d assume it’s the same as the footie, but with a lower, and less evenly distributed audience or market.

    FIFA generates cash every four years around the World Cup. It runs that cash down over the next three years. Notionally, UEFA (and the other regional organisations) would do the same, on a cycle that doesn’t overlap with FIFA, with the African Nations and Euros.

    UEFA has what FIFA doesn’t, the Champions League. Clubs get a fair whack of the cash, but UEFA retains most of it. FIFA’s current proposals to have a bi-annual competition, fronted by Wenger, would clearly impact UEFA’s revenue via the Euros*. It’s not clear to me whether the new World Cup cycle would actually raise that much new revenue for FIFA, or just spread the existing pie out over the cycle as they remove the relative scarcity (Wenger’s got a degree in economics, BTW, tho’ probably 45~50 years ago).

    So, I reckon the same dynamic is playing out within rugby. Probably within cricket right now as well, where the elephant in the room would be the IPL.

    There was bit of a hoo-haa over the Brazil-Argentina FIFA qualifier last week (interesting bit of sabotage there). FIFA has the power to ban (for 5 days) players who aren’t released by the clubs for international duty from domestic or other competitions, and the PL clubs agreed amongst themselves not to release those players who face the 14 day quarantine requirements on their return.

    A player’s value to the clubs is down to the exclusivity agreement in the registration with the respective FAs, and enforced by them, and ultimately by FIFA. FIFA’s revenue from the World Cup is partially dependent on the superstar effects created by the global reach of the PL and CL.

    Which is why I think Tim’s idea won’t work – the proposed second tier won’t have those superstars to attract the audience. The competition would be the League Cup or Europa Cup equivalent, and get trapped in that status.

    But, I don’t know how the rugby world handles players’ registrations. Cricket is different anyway.

    *Kinda depends on what UEFA does. They could maintain relative scarcity to the WC by shifting to a five year cycle. Revenues might increase.

  8. @DMD

    Rugby is fucked up in various ways. You can’t realistically play during the southern hemisphere summer (too hot, pitches dangerously hard), which makes a global season hard to arrange (we could potentially play here during our summer, not so sure about south of France for similar reasons to SH).

    Players are ‘owned’ in various ways eg the Irish players are contracted to the IRFU, English players are contracted to individual clubs, the clubs being kept afloat by sugar daddies who basically love rugby (they’re certainly not getting rich off it – only Exeter and Leicester I think break even, the rest all make big losses).

    Clubs and unions are pulling in different directions and the players are caught in the middle. (The RFU should have contracted the players when the game went pro, and then leased them to clubs or something, but they’re fucking idiots so they didn’t.)

    Any money that does come in goes to the players, which is faur enough in one sense but is simply replicating football on a smaller scale in another – the clubs stay broke, the players drive Lambourghinis.

    They’re trying to get a global women’s game off the ground when really no-one wants it, at the same time as they’re trying to ruin the men’s game with endless law changes and safety worries.

    I could go on but I may have a stroke.

  9. There’s a myth about rugby from the 60s, that it was exciting and fast. In reality, it was often boring and slow – the pitches were terrible, the players were unfit and weak by today’s standards, and the tackling and handling was often poor. Most modern premiership sides would beat the All Blacks of fifty years ago in their sleep, under whatever laws. But it has gone way too far the other way.

  10. Interested – Ta. Looks similar, if you squint. Sort of like the idea of the RFU leasing players, I’m not entirely convinced, think you’ll end up with a screwy version of the Yank system.

    There’s also the problem of the two codes in rugby, which football doesn’t have to deal with.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I really don’t see the English clubs wearing this one. They’re already losing patience with England over players getting released and having be rested when they come back, even if the don’t play, and others coming back with serious injurie, often caused in training.

    Its even worse in World Cup years with England demanding that massive squads of players get released for training camps and again a number of them returning with injuries, some serious.

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