World Rugby must take care of everyone

Sports Panorama: Enoch Muchinjo

SWEEPING reforms in international rugby, which will see the 12 leading Test nations on the planet clash in an annual championship, have been roundly rejected by the game’s most respected figures.

Too much rugby in an already congested calendar year, they say.

I could not agree with them more. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and while such an restructuring exercise could boost the coffers of the governing body of rugby in the world and the national federations, viewership-wise it can be a potential disaster.

It is hard though to disagree with World Rugby that a lot of the international rugby games being played by the top nations these days are “friendlies”, which has raised the need to formalise these clashes by introducing this proposed World League, or League of Nations.

But until a mutually agreeable competition can be organised, one that does not devalue the World Cup, as a rugby fan sitting in Africa I will have no other choice but to accept the status quo of the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations as the main Test competitions in the world at the moment.

Apart from overwhelming disapproval of the World League, what will also leave egg on the face of the bureaucrats in Dublin is that their inclination to commercial whims, at the expense of the growth of the game worldwide, has been further exposed.

Imagine that the Pacific nations, with all the rich culture of rugby, would be excluded from this World League arrangement because, World Rugby will, of course, not publicly say it, they are not commercially attractive.

Let us not even talk of a lot of the second and third-tier nations, who in the past 10 years or so have become much stronger, better, faster and more structured in the way they play rugby.

The quality of the competition in the Africa Cup last season is a good example.

How about making this World League thing a yearly championship of these kind of teams, seeing that they never get to play good Test rugby outside their zones and the World Cup is a destination too far for them?

World Rugby has a mandate to grow the game. Frankly speaking, different administrations of this organisation have not fulfilled this mandate.

It is as if some powerful people want to keep rugby an elitist sport. All focus is on the top-tier nations. Right now the best teams in the world are speaking out against an overkill, yet in our parts of the world there is game-time famine.

We would be desperately grateful for what these guys in the top-tier are rejecting.

The disparity in world rugby is something that must be addressed urgently to incentivise efforts being made by second and third-tier nations to grow the sport in their countries, otherwise I fear a lot of these countries will slide back into the mediocrity of the past.

Take the example of Sri Lanka. They have played rugby in that country since 1879 and are considered the second largest rugby-playing nation in Asia behind Japan.

But who has heard of Sri Lanka and rugby being mentioned in the same sentence?

When you look at where the Sri Lankans are on the world rugby map — nowhere really — and see where the Japanese are—hobnobbing with the big boys and beating the Springboks at the World Cup — you will fully get the point.

Would it not be a brilliant idea, if you were to slot teams like Sri Lanka, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia into a 16-nation championship of the second-tier and third-tier countries of world rugby?

Georgia — who are not considered good enough for a place in Six Nations despite being ranked above Italy — can find worthwhile competition in this championship alongside fellow Europeans, the likes of Romania, Spain, Germany and others.

Interest will be generated from the Americas by the likes of Canada, Uruguay and Chile while for us in Africa sides like Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Tunisia will raise their hands.

Someone please nudge World Rugby and remind them of our existence.

SWEEPING reforms in international rugby, which will see the 12 leading Test nations on the planet clash in an annual championship, have been roundly rejected by the game’s most respected figures.

Too much rugby in an already congested calendar year, they say.

I could not agree with them more. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and while such an restructuring exercise could boost the coffers of the governing body of rugby in the world and the national federations, viewership-wise it can be a potential disaster.

It is hard though to disagree with World Rugby that a lot of the international rugby games being played by the top nations these days are “friendlies”, which has raised the need to formalise these clashes by introducing this proposed World League, or League of Nations.

But until a mutually agreeable competition can be organised, one that does not devalue the World Cup, as a rugby fan sitting in Africa I will have no other choice but to accept the status quo of the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations as the main Test competitions in the world at the moment.

Apart from overwhelming disapproval of the World League, what will also leave egg on the face of the bureaucrats in Dublin is that their inclination to commercial whims, at the expense of the growth of the game worldwide, has been further exposed.

Imagine that the Pacific nations, with all the rich culture of rugby, would be excluded from this World League arrangement because, World Rugby will, of course, not publicly say it, they are not commercially attractive.

Let us not even talk of a lot of the second and third-tier nations, who in the past 10 years or so have become much stronger, better, faster and more structured in the way they play rugby.

The quality of the competition in the Africa Cup last season is a good example.

How about making this World League thing a yearly championship of these kind of teams, seeing that they never get to play good Test rugby outside their zones and the World Cup is a destination too far for them?

World Rugby has a mandate to grow the game. Frankly speaking, different administrations of this organisation have not fulfilled this mandate.

It is as if some powerful people want to keep rugby an elitist sport. All focus is on the top-tier nations. Right now the best teams in the world are speaking out against an overkill, yet in our parts of the world there is game-time famine.

We would be desperately grateful for what these guys in the top-tier are rejecting.

The disparity in world rugby is something that must be addressed urgently to incentivise efforts being made by second and third-tier nations to grow the sport in their countries, otherwise I fear a lot of these countries will slide back into the mediocrity of the past.

Take the example of Sri Lanka. They have played rugby in that country since 1879 and are considered the second largest rugby-playing nation in Asia behind Japan.

But who has heard of Sri Lanka and rugby being mentioned in the same sentence?

When you look at where the Sri Lankans are on the world rugby map — nowhere really — and see where the Japanese are—hobnobbing with the big boys and beating the Springboks at the World Cup — you will fully get the point.

Would it not be a brilliant idea, if you were to slot teams like Sri Lanka, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia into a 16-nation championship of the second-tier and third-tier countries of world rugby?

Georgia — who are not considered good enough for a place in Six Nations despite being ranked above Italy — can find worthwhile competition in this championship alongside fellow Europeans, the likes of Romania, Spain, Germany and others.

Interest will be generated from the Americas by the likes of Canada, Uruguay and Chile while for us in Africa sides like Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Tunisia will raise their hands.

Someone please nudge World Rugby and remind them of our existence.

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