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EDITORIAL: New Format Needed To Makes Sense Of Standards On World Stage

Sometimes rugby players learn the hard way. But they hardly learn anything if they are getting smashed by the rugby super powers on the world stage. This is why World
30 Aug 2015 10:14
EDITORIAL: New Format Needed To Makes Sense Of Standards On World Stage

Sometimes rugby players learn the hard way. But they hardly learn anything if they are getting smashed by the rugby super powers on the world stage.

This is why World Rugby needs to change the Rugby World Cup format to avoid mismatches.

Players dream of representing their countries in the RWC. And they don’t want to be remembered after being embarrassed in a one-sided test during the four-yearly event. Simply it’s a waste of time, money and space.

Being the No.1 team in the world and defending champions, much anticipation is on the 31–man All Blacks squad which will be named at the Beehive in Wellington today.

For all Fijians, it will be a delight if Waisake Naholo makes the cut after a miracle traditional therapy at his village in Nadroumai, Nadroga, helped him recover quickly to be considered.

It’s a fait accompli when Richie McCaw’s men meet minnows, 20th ranked Namibia and 13th ranked Georgia in England next month. Triple digit score is well within the range of this sleek All Blacks outfit. Namibia and Georgia will be like sheep going to the slaughter.

To date, some of the biggest scores recorded in the RWC are New Zealand 142 -17 Japan (1995), Australia 142-0 Namibia (2003), NZ 108-13 Portugal (2007), NZ 101-3 Italy (1999).

The gap in standard between Namibia and the All Blacks is huge. It does not make sense that this match-up is organised at this very high level when Namibia never features in the All Blacks calendar because they are just not good enough.

The tournament is an avenue to make enormous profits for World Rugby. And they can still make profits if they change the format by increasing the number of the teams to 24 from the current 20 and split the tournament into two tiers.

The top 12 to play for the William Webb- Ellis Trophy and the other 12 to play for the Union Cup or something else.

This will allow teams to compete well for the top 12 in four years before the next RWC and will make the two tiers more competitive. World Rugby could even host the finals of the two tiers together.

To make it more profitable, World Rugby could also reduce the playing time. The 2015 RWC is scheduled for six weeks from the opening game between Fiji and England on September 19 to the final on November 1.   The new format will avoid the mismatches and the lopsided pools. A case in point is Pool A where Fiji is being grouped against England, Wales, Australia and Uruguay.

On the other hand and barring upsets, either Argentina or Tonga will join the All Blacks as the top teams in Pool C which also includes Georgia and Namibia.

The Flying Fijians need to meet fire with fire in the ‘pool of death’.

They can deliver as they have come through the school of hard knocks under the professional coaching staff led by John McKee.

Fijians have surprised the rugby world in the past. They can do it again. They have the capacity to avoid becoming the whipping boys of their pool. They can cause upsets.

As they depart for London tomorrow, all Fijians wish them all the best. If the William Webb-Ellis Trophy eludes them, they can still finish with the recognition as the tournament’s giant-killers.

In the proposed new format the Flying Fijians would be in Tier One with a chance to play – and beat – the best.

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

 




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