Opinion

EDITORIAL : World Rugby Decision Shocking; It Displays It Is Still An Exclusive Old Boys Club Of Tier One Nations

World Rugby must be kidding or having their blinkers on. They have gone against the tide of public opinion, particularly in rugby-mad New Zealand, by ignoring the Vodafone national 7s
15 Nov 2016 11:00
EDITORIAL : World Rugby Decision Shocking; It Displays It Is Still An Exclusive Old Boys Club Of Tier One Nations

World Rugby must be kidding or having their blinkers on.

They have gone against the tide of public opinion, particularly in rugby-mad New Zealand, by ignoring the Vodafone national 7s team’s gold victory in the Rio Olympics.

They surprised the rugby world by handing the annual team and coach awards to the All Blacks and coach Steve Hansen.

World Rugby have clearly displayed their bias towards Tier One nations in a year that the one single event that captured the imagination of the whole world was the Rio Olympics.

And it was the Fijians who proudly showcased rugby 7s at its best in that scintillating final against Great Britain.

That brilliant performance eclipsed any other rugby achievement this year by any rugby playing nation by a long shot.

But World Rugby thought otherwise.

They said: “New Zealand may have come up short in their bid to set a new world record for the most consecutive test victories with defeat to Ireland last weekend, but the All Blacks have picked up where they left off at RWC 2015 with some scintillating displays of attacking rugby in 2016 to complete a series whitewash of Wales in June, win the Rugby Championship with six bonus-point wins and retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 14th success year.

“This is the seventh year in a row and the 10th time overall that New Zealand have been named Team of the Year.”

The All Blacks are a great rugby team. They have always been and people expect to see them at the top because of their strong rugby tradition and culture.

Their loss to Ireland, although some of their top players were absent, should not have drastically affected their performance, if they were the number one team.

But still, even if they had won, no one would be surprised. Many were surprised, though, when the Irish scored that upset victory. Coach Hansen who was overlooked the previous year got the award this year.

The All Blacks’ win would have been no problem if Fiji had not won gold in Rio.

The style in which Fiji won it and the fact that it did with limited resources compared to the Tier One nations should have been compelling enough for World Rugby to give the Fijians the team award at least.

More important of all is that the Fijians have broadened the appeal of the game internationally.

Countries that knew little about rugby now know more and must have been excited to see a small island nation beat more powerful nations to win the ultimate prize.

The fact is the Olympics has a much wider reach than the World 7s series and the 7s World Cup.

Many rugby fans here and abroad have expressed their shock and dismay over the decision.

A tweet by a Mac Moto from New Zealand aptly summed up the mood: “Olympic Gold and back to back series win mean nothing to World Rugby. Still an old boys club. Sevens is still in the shadow of 15’s code. Even after the Olympics, all that audience viewing and sevens breaking new ground.”

That’s what it feels like right now.

This would have been a perfect opportunity for World Rugby to recognise minnows like Fiji contributing to its expansion.

But it’s now clearly evident that World Rugby is still an exclusive old boys club of Tier One nations.

 

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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