Would you rather watch England vs Namibia or England vs Australia?
LONDON, ENGLAND – Looking back at the last Rugby World Cup, two things really stick out for me:
1) The schedule of the Tier 2 Nations
2) The score-lines, although getting better, are still no where near where a Tier 2 Nation competes with a Tier 2. It seems that in the World Cup, there were two clear bands.
According to the IRB, Tier 1 is comprised of the teams in the 6Nations and The Rugby Championship. Based on their rankings and recent performances, these teams are the real tier 1, New Zealand, France, England, Argentina, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Wales and Samoa. The rest of the teams that would considered Tier 2/3 Nations are Namibia, Fiji, Russia, USA, Italy, Romania, Georgia, Scotland, Japan, Canada and Tonga.
So, there are 9 teams in Tier 1 and 11 in Tier 2/3, which leads me to believe the Rugby World Cup Needs Restructuring in order provide high quality games and better games of rugby to watch. The restricting would also aid in development of the game for the Tier 2 Nations.
Now hold on – we’re not suggesting a Cup and a Plate competition, as others have suggested before. Instead, lets be honest and put forward a tiered competition… Anyone who follows rugby league will know what I’m on about. For those of you Union fans that don’t, pay close attention. In the Rugby League World Cup, they run a tiered pool play round leading into the round of 8. In this competition, they put the top 8 nations into two pools and the lower nations into separate pools. The top 3 teams of the Tier 1 teams qualify and the top team in the Tier 2 teams qualify.
Looking at this from a union perspective, I think it would do one of three things:
1) Allow for more games that would sell on TV. Would you rather watch England vs Namibia or England vs Australia? For me this is a no brainier, especially from a monetary perspective. You can sell more tickets to England vs Australia than England Namibia. Monetarily it makes sense.
2) Allow for more competitive games. You’d have Tier 2 nations playing against Tier 2 nations. So, a group of USA, Russia, Scotland and Italy would only promote a positive game and better play. Also, what’s going to play better than a USA vs Russia or a USA vs Canada match back home?
3) Render the “Resting Time” argument moot. Easily the most talked about point of the last few Rugby World Cups. This would easily be fixed because you wouldn’t have to worry about resting times, as all the teams would all be on a level playing field – in terms of level of opposition and time off.
Could this League model work in Union? Yes. First, the groups should be dropped down to four teams – instead of five. This would allow for only three games in pool play, while allowing the knock-outs to be extended into 4 rounds instead of 3. Here you would see the Tier 1 and Tier 2 competitions meet. So with a round of 16, now we’d allow for more teams to qualify as well as better competition and a higher monetary value.
Thoughts? If you don’t follow my math, feel free to post a comment and I will clarify.