What next for Japan?

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Post by 123456789. on Sun 13 Oct 2019, 6:48 pm

First topic message reminder :

In the aftermath of Japan's victory over Scotland Sir Ian McGeechan suggested they come into the Six Nations. Japan have quite obviously broken out of Tier 2 now.

However there can be little argument that the Rugby World is utterly terrible at bringing teams from Tier 2 into Tier One. Italy were the first great pioneers however they have never really kicked on. Having jockeyed with Scotland for fifth in the Six Nations since the noughties achieving the odd fourth place finish they now seem fairly rooted at the bottom of the Six Nations. They've never reached the knockout stages of the World Cup. Argentina followed Italy, first reaching the knockout stages in 2007, they achieved three consecutive knockout appearances. Reaching the semi-final twice. Entering the Rugby Championship in 2012 they've won a grand total of 5 games. They've just failed to reach the Quarter Finals. In the decade prior to reaching entering the Rugby Championship they played Scotland 10 times and won 60% of the games. Since then they have faced Scotland five times and lost each time. Similarly both Italy and Argentina have been ushered into the ranks of Tier One domestic rugby, Los Jaguares entering Super Rugby in 2016 and Italian teams entering the then Celtic League in 2010. Italy saw an initial upturn between 2011 and 2015 following their entry to the elite of domestic rugby winning 5 matches in the Six Nations, including victories over Ireland and France on occasion. Since 2015 they have been woeful failing to win a game and rarely threatening to either. Since bonus points were introduced they have failed to score four tries on any occasion and have picked up only one losing bonus point. It's hard to see any discernible improvement to Argentinian fortunes since their teams entered Super Rugby in 2016. T

Moving on from Argentina and Italy, there's the Pacific Islanders. Rugby's most naturally gifted nation, exploited by rich clubs and rich nations alike with very little return. Fiji having reached the knockout stages of the World Cup in 1999 and 2007. Samoa reached the knockout stages in 1991 and 1995. Tonga have been less successful but did record a notable victory over France in 2011. Of the Tier One Nations (especially if we include Japan) only Argentina and South Africa do not have players of Fijian, Samoan and Tongan descent. You would be hard pressed to find a professional rugby side in Europe without a Pacific Islander. In return they get the odd token game against Tier One opposition in November and every four years or so Scotland go to play there because no one else will have them. The treatment of them is World Rugby's greatest shame.

So how do World Rugby go right with Japan where they have gone wrong so many times before? Given the Sunwolves have been terminated and seem unlikely to be resuscitated any time soon how does World Rugby ensure that Japan cement their status amongst Tier One and remain there. For the National team there's three obvious options: Firstly continuing as they are, Secondly entering the Six Nations, Thirdly entering the Rugby Championship, Fourthly, Rugby changing altogether.

The first option would be incredibly shortsighted, Rugby has few economic powerhouses. Failing to capitalise on Rugby's popularity would be a wasted opportunity. However our existing elite competitions cannot keep expanding every time a new powerhouse emerges. Consider where Japan were 15 years ago being beaten by Matt Williams' Scotland by 100 points compared to today. We could see the USA or Russia embark on a similar journey over the next fifteen years. Why should Japan leap frog the Pacific Islanders? Could World Rugby not invest more in the Pacific Championship.

The Second option is the Six Nations, Japan is only slightly longer in terms of travel from London as from Auckland. The Southern Hemisphere teams have done all the running in terms of expanding rugby since Italy joined the Six Nations. On the other hand the Six Nations is an intrinsically European competition, it exists to find the best team in Europe. Also, as I have argued before, part of its appeal is its parochialism and the cultural aspect. The visits between ancient European capitals that can be done on a budget and of a weekend. Tokyo would be a different kettle of fish. There is also the fact that Georgia are not far away and who knows how rugby will progress in Russia or enjoy a resurgence in Romania. There is the argument that if the Six Nations should expand there are European countries who have been queuing up for years. Why should Japan leapfrog them?

The third option is the Rugby Championship. Japan, in rugby terms, is very much so in the southern hemisphere. Japan is a common retirement location for New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans. In terms of time difference the logistics are better. There is also the fact that travelling fans are less of a feature, for reasons of geography not apathy, in the rugby championship so that wouldn't impact so much. But where you can cite Georgia or Russia for the Six Nations, you can mention Fiji, Tonga and Samoa for the Rugby Championship. In my opinion it is the most natural option but not a straightforward choice by any means.

Fourth, we can change the Rugby Calendar. My objection to this is based entirely on the rather conservative attitude that expansion shouldn't be at the expense of the existing rugby nations. The Six Nations is a brilliant contest. Not just because of the rugby but because of the history. When Wales come to Edinburgh the place picks up, the atmosphere is amazing. Scotland and England have been one country for 312 years yet it's still feels better than anything to beat them, some of my best friends at University were Irish so playing them is a special occasion (for me, I don't think the makeup of nationalities amongst my social circle should impact world rugby, the point being how close these countries are). There is so much history in our set ups that we'd be losing far more than we'd gain by a global calendar in my opinion. There is, however, more than one way to skin a cat. One suggestion I've always been in favour of is regional knockout competitions in "Lions" years. Why not have a European Cup every four years? It would massively favour France as they wouldn't be weakened by the Lions and they, well, aren't Italy. But it would be a developmental option for the Home Nations with their star players away with the Lions (and we in Scotland could try out a new Doctor). Imagine a tournament of 12-16 teams in Georgia. In the "Southern Hemisphere" (in loose rugby terms) we could see the likes of the USA, Canada, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Uruguay, Namibia maybe, in time, Kenya with a regular outlet to test themselves against the best. Again one of these occasions hosted across the Pacific Islands could have a transformative effect. The Rugby Championship sides could put out weakened teams to expose their second/ third stringers to tournament rugby two years out from a World Cup. The only issue being that the teams not involved in the Lions risk their revenue during the June tests. Northern hemisphere teams would have to look at sharing profits in November, but that's a pressing discussion anyway. I don't think it's a solution for Japan (I think they've earned at least a debate about entrance to the top table), but I do think it's a way to expand rugby while preserving what's good about it currently.

Anyway, I have digressed, and the central question remains, what next for Japan?

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 10:43 am

No. Japan aren't on the verge of becoming a world power. They're certainly no better than Italy, I'd argue they'd likely lose more than they would against them.

Let their domestic league grow with the benefit of retired All Blacks and Springboks. Let them develop a commercial league. Homegrown Japanese players will be better for it.

In 4 years' time there might be a discussion to be had about which test competition the Blossoms play in, but as the whole global season is up in the air - and the Rugby Championship is likely to change fairly dramatically, fairly soon - it would be foolish to rush them in to anything just to become the world's whipping boys.

Japan's level is still closer to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa than it is Argentina or Scotland - despite their success in this tournament.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 10:47 am

Old Man wrote:
miaow wrote:Hope Japan tell them to f it.

In all fairness, what Joseph did this year was pretty cheeky - effectively preparing Japan like a club team and sacricing 12 months of Super Rugby.

But there's clear commercial incentive in growing the game in Japan with their own league, doing things their own way, sticking to Japanese rugby values and not being a bit part player in a South Pacific competition.

Do you then suggest they join the six nations?

No. We're full. We were thinking about kicking out Italy but then they went and kept the mighty ABs to a nil all draw. That kind of performance has to be honoured. So they have four more years of a reprieve.

But Ireland are nervous now!

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Post by robbo277 on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 10:49 am

LondonTiger wrote:https://www.rugbypass.com/news/why-adding-japan-to-an-existing-competition-is-the-worst-solution-to-world-rugbys-growing-problem


Did I write this? I feel like I said something very similar on here earlier.

Get a good annual pacific competition. That on top of more regular games against T1 and that is plenty for now.

Shoehorning them into a competition is not sustainable. Even if you can squeeze them and Fiji in, it leaves Samoa and Tonga behind, and, if they ever make it to that level, you're stuck for trying to get them in somewhere too.

I do like the suggestion to reduce the Rugby Championship. It's not something I'd considered, but it may be a way to freshen it up slightly and increase options for Tier 2 games. Not sure if I'm 100% for it, but it is worth considering.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:02 am

Think it's just common sense tbh. This rush to make everything cross border and commercial seems both impractical given the distances, and more than a little bit fishy from the likes of NZ and Oz. Oz have their own battles with League literally staging a 9s tournament to try and detract from the RWC viewership, and NZ ofc want to maximise the brand as much as possible.

But it's pretty clear the Argentinian experiment has been mixed in its success.

Personally, I think there's a real case to be made for returning to the Tri Nations and 5 Nations. Have the 5 Nations play 4 games on the spin - no rest week - to minimise the time it cuts in to the domestic season. You then have a more significant global competition featuring a cup/bowl/plate tournament during the Lions tour, with the likes of Japan, the Polynesians, Italy, Argentina, and the weakened Home Nations sides playing 2 'group' games and 3 knockouts. Perhaps space for the Maori ABs, emerging Sprinboks etc. And maybe a way of including involvement from the Lions as well - get a money spinner in there, perhaps so it's not clashing. Not sure. Either way, it would be genuinely competitive, commercially lucrative, beneficial in terms of competition, and there would be a decent chance of the Home Nations losing.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:03 am

miaow wrote:No. Japan aren't on the verge of becoming a world power. They're certainly no better than Italy, I'd argue they'd likely lose more than they would against them.

Let their domestic league grow with the benefit of retired All Blacks and Springboks. Let them develop a commercial league. Homegrown Japanese players will be better for it.

In 4 years' time there might be a discussion to be had about which test competition the Blossoms play in, but as the whole global season is up in the air - and the Rugby Championship is likely to change fairly dramatically, fairly soon - it would be foolish to rush them in to anything just to become the world's whipping boys.

Japan's level is still closer to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa than it is Argentina or Scotland - despite their success in this tournament.

So Scotland are better than Japan despite losing to them and beating Ireland in the process, remind me when Italy have done that in recent times?

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:07 am

By and large, yes, Scotland are still better. The Japanese team trained like a club team for 12 months before their home RWC. It also has a hefty dose of imports, moreso even than Scotland. Scotland have a flawed coach and clearly underperformed, while Japan overperformed. For all that Japan brought on the field this tournament, they're clearly not going to sustain this level. It's naive to think so - the kind of naivety that has seen Argentina regress as a rugby team because they couldn't compete on both domestic and international fronts.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:09 am

So if we change all the variables that make one team better than another the other team is still better... right.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:10 am

miaow wrote:No. Japan aren't on the verge of becoming a world power. They're certainly no better than Italy, I'd argue they'd likely lose more than they would against them.

They are significantly better than Italy. Have you gone insane?

Except Japan, where they went 1-1 with the Japan win being much wider, Italy haven't beaten a decent team since 2016, and that's when SA were probably at their worst ever point. They have more good wins this tournament than Italy have since the last World Cup.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:11 am

Yes, if you look beyond simply 'how far a team got' you can see things like sustainability, networks and infrastructure for success, where that overperformance and underperformance came from. Japan are not at Scotland or Argentina's level. Closer to Italy, and Italy are under threat of being axed for the lack of competition they bring to the 6Ns.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:12 am

Scottrf wrote:
miaow wrote:No. Japan aren't on the verge of becoming a world power. They're certainly no better than Italy, I'd argue they'd likely lose more than they would against them.

They are significantly better than Italy. Have you gone insane?

Except Japan, where they went 1-1 with the Japan win being much wider, Italy haven't beaten a decent team since 2016, and that's when SA were probably at their worst ever point. They have more good wins this tournament than Italy have since the last World Cup.

Calm down, no need for the insults.

Judge Japan when they haven't trained like a club team for 12 months. Genuinely. They're not better than Italy. Let's revisit this in 2-3 years and see how things stand.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:14 am

If training a certain way makes them better, then they are better.

I picked them to beat Scotland. I can't remember the last game I'd pick Italy to get within a score of Scotland.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:15 am

If we look past actual results Doh

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:16 am

Soul Requiem wrote:If we look past actual results Doh

Ofc. Results aren't acontextual.

Erm Doh

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:16 am

I think what Miaow means is if you had ten games over ten weekends between Scotland and Japan at a neutral venue...how many would Japan win?

'Ten!', shouts back the Japan fan club....Wink

Okay, so I gave it my best shot.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:17 am

I can get that Japan aren't better than Scotland longer term...but Italy?

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Post by Old Man on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:18 am

Japan has to now show they can perform outside of the RWC, like miaow says, training for the RWC with a one year preparation vs a coach only having his players available in short bursts is different.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:21 am

Scottrf wrote:If training a certain way makes them better, then they are better.

I picked them to beat Scotland. I can't remember the last game I'd pick Italy to get within a score of Scotland.

The point is I'd imagine WR will look in to stopping the same thing happening again, as - as good as it is - if a tier 1 team took 15-20 of its top stars out of the Prem/Pro14/SR for 12 months and trained them up solely for the RWC, there would be major questions asked.

I love what Japan have done this tournament, and you ignore the fact they're full of imports for the sake of that, but the moment people then start making wild leaps and pretend they're going to continue this success and are actually better than Scotland or even Italy and that they deserve to be in the 6Ns or RC on the back of this RWC is foolish.

The Pacific Nations Cup is a good comp that should be developed. All teams should be encouraged to grow, but I imagine Japan will suffer signiicantly with the new 5 year qualification rule, and if Jamie Joseph is snapped up.

You can't rush things. Develop their league, the money's there, so up the standards, and get the 6 year olds of today enamoured with the game, instead of cashing in for 5-6 years of hammerings against NZ until they grow sick of it and demand more money and comp. from the NH.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:22 am

Okay, how about 2017? Draw with France, Italy outdone.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:23 am

Scottrf wrote:I can get that Japan aren't better than Scotland longer term...but Italy?

Again though. This Japanese team was a project. A scientific project. It was sheltered from the normal stresses players face that play for other Internationals. Other players slog through their club seasons, get called on to play different brands of rugby, different, conflicting coaching opinions, turning up to play with unfamiliar partners, etc.

Japan have been bloody slick but really it would require a more extended period of normal process for them to be calibrated against other sides. They were steam cooked in a vacuum to become the challenge they were at this WC.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:25 am

SecretFly wrote:
Scottrf wrote:I can get that Japan aren't better than Scotland longer term...but Italy?

Again though.  This Japanese team was a project.  A scientific project.  It was sheltered from the normal stresses players face that play for other Internationals.  Other players slog through their club seasons, get called on to play different brands of rugby, different, conflicting coaching opinions, turning up to play with unfamiliar partners, etc.

Japan have been bloody slick but really it would require a more extended period of normal process for them to be calibrated against other sides.  They were steam cooked in a vacuum to become the challenge they were at this WC.

Kind of making a different statement than the one I was responding to at this point though.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:26 am

If you want to talk about Italy, you cannot ignore how utterly dreadful 2013 and the restructuring of European competition was to their side. Treviso went from being a solidly mid table Pro12 team who were looking to consoidate in the Heineken Cup to losing all their players in a few months, and nearly going out of business. It took until last season, really, for them to bounce back. The Italian U20s are looking good, O'Shea has been laying structures - much like Scotland in 2011ish, you'll soon see an upturn in results and competitiveness. Don't be too hasty demanding success, despite the fact they have been disappointing in many ways.

France are France, and I feel we've touched on where Japan have done well i.e. imports, coaching etc. It's not to say they're significantly worse than Italy, I'd say they're just under par, but they're not loads better. If Japan played in the 6Ns they would get obliterated.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:28 am

miaow wrote:If you want to talk about Italy, you cannot ignore how utterly dreadful 2013 and the restructuring of European competition was to their side. Treviso went from being a solidly mid table Pro12 team who were looking to consoidate in the Heineken Cup to losing all their players in a few months, and nearly going out of business. It took until last season, really, for them to bounce back. The Italian U20s are looking good, O'Shea has been laying structures - much like Scotland in 2011ish, you'll soon see an upturn in results and competitiveness. Don't be too hasty demanding success, despite the fact they have been disappointing in many ways.

France are France, and I feel we've touched on where Japan have done well i.e. imports, coaching etc. It's not to say they're significantly worse than Italy, I'd say they're just under par, but they're not loads better. If Japan played in the 6Ns they would get obliterated.

But that's the reality of where they are. The upturn in Italy's fortunes gets talked about every year. Then they lose every game at the 6 Nations. And will next year.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:32 am

Btw...instead of us questioning Japan's 'real' standard as against the one they showed up at this WC with....maybe the true discussion is have they unearthed the best blueprint for actually preparing for a WC?

'NO!', screams Clubs who pay players wages. 'Hmmmm', murmurs Unions that got WCs to win......

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:32 am

Yes, but you're missing the salient point. You're judging Italy by their 6Ns results, while Japan are judged by AIs and RWCs. Italy were unfortunate to get the draw they did, while also not even playing one of their key games. Ok, so be it, they got a man sent off v SA.

But they've also beaten SA in the autumn. Has Japan had a better result than that in the last 4 years?

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:34 am

Good point Fly.

No, in my opinion,they haven't, as ultimately they prepared incredible gameplans for their group opponents and although they deserved to, were fortunate that Ireland and Scotland were so poor - Scotland on a 4 day turnaround, Ireland seemingly took their eye off the ball and in a huge decline as well.

That isn't the formula to win the RWC overall, but is clearly a great way for tier 2 to shock the world, get people talking, and possibly get the huge commercial leg up that can make a difference. In that sense, it's savvy.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:43 am

As great as they were and as nice as they were to watch I think you can probably subtract 7-10 points from each of their results based on the level of bias shown by refs towards them in this RWC given it was a home RWC. I think that gives a more accurate picture of where they are. Which still isnt that far off mid table six nations IMO.

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Post by Afro on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:45 am

It a tricky conundrum to get right, as it needs something that doesn't pitch a team in above their level, but still offers the motivation of moving up to the top table if performances earn it. And then marrying that up with the domestic seasons and the geographical spread.

NH/Europe the option could be dropping back to 5 teams at T1, then having more levels of 5 teams below with a chance of relegation/promotion between the levels. As previously alluded to, that would probably need a playoff between the bottom of one tier and top of the one below, to ensure teams aren't promoted before they are ready and become lambs to the slaughter, and that a team isn't relegated to a tier where they are just going to roll over all the other teams.

In the SH, maybe you do the same, but with 4 teams as it currently stands, in order to allow for the geographical split. So tier 2 might be Japan, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji to start with.

Then question is what about USA and Canada. It also needs the IRB to put their hand in their pocket and support the T2 nations for it to work
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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:46 am

Collapse2005 wrote:As great as they were and as nice as they were to watch I think you can probably subtract 7-10 points from each of their results based on the level of bias shown by refs towards them in this RWC given it was a home RWC. I think that gives a more accurate picture of where they are. Which still isnt that far off mid table six nations IMO.

So turning an Ireland loss into a win, how convenient. They got the benefit of the ref against South Africa but not against either Ireland and certainly not Scotland who were fortunate with Jonny Gray not getting carded.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:50 am

I think they are and have, Afro. Namibia and Russia have their coaches paid for by WR. Not sure whether Gould and Haig are subsidised by WR for the US and Georgia as well.

The issue is how to make a fairly small, fringe sport come together when the tier 2 teams we're talking about are all fairly disparate. Uruguay showed the huge improvement that comes with playing pro rugby in the US, but also the knock on effect of taking Argentinian rugby IQ - they really di play like Argentina 12 years ago, and it worked.

How would Japan playing in the 6Ns work? It wouldn't. The Rugby Championship? Possibly, although I think you'd see SA want to get in with the NH for the timezone and monetary benefits soon enough. If you add Japan, you lose games v NZ and Oz - what's the point in that?

Same issues apply domestically and for all the other tier 2 nations. You can't rush it. It's better to make pro leagues flourish and then go from there, but understandably the unions are wary of this.

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Post by Old Man on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:54 am

So realistically where do teams rate in terms of tiers?

If you consider top tier teams (ignore rankings, I am basing it on competitiveness)

NZ, England, Wales, SA, Ireland, Australia

France, Argentina, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Fiji

Followed by the rest?

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Post by Collapse2005 on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:55 am

Soul Requiem wrote:
Collapse2005 wrote:As great as they were and as nice as they were to watch I think you can probably subtract 7-10 points from each of their results based on the level of bias shown by refs towards them in this RWC given it was a home RWC. I think that gives a more accurate picture of where they are. Which still isnt that far off mid table six nations IMO.

So turning an Ireland loss into a win, how convenient. They got the benefit of the ref against South Africa but not against either Ireland and certainly not Scotland who were fortunate with Jonny Gray not getting carded.

Ha if thats the way you want to interpret it knock yourself out. World rugby confirmed three offside penalties given against Ireland were incorrect post game. They were worth points.

In the Scotland and Ireland games the refs were also quite reluctant to penalise Japan for quite regularly being offside. In thd Japan v Samoa game there were a number of homer decisions most notably awarding Japan a free in the last minute on a Samoa scrum. The free gave Japan the try BP they needed to top the group.

Almost all 50/50 calls went to Japan in most of their games. Seemed quite obvious to be honest.

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Post by Brendan on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 11:57 am

LondonTiger wrote:
Old Man wrote:
miaow wrote:Hope Japan tell them to f it.

In all fairness, what Joseph did this year was pretty cheeky - effectively preparing Japan like a club team and sacricing 12 months of Super Rugby.

But there's clear commercial incentive in growing the game in Japan with their own league, doing things their own way, sticking to Japanese rugby values and not being a bit part player in a South Pacific competition.

Do you then suggest they join the six nations?

I agree with the article I posted above.

Much better if Japan can sort out their domestic league, more time and money is put into the PNC, games are played against Tier 1 teams during AI and summer tours.

World Rugby already give more money to the PIs than the other T2 nations.  They also get more regular games against T1 NH teams (notice not SH who rarely play T2 except for money or right before a WC) than the rest of the T2.  Tonga and Samoa are on par with the USA, Uraguary, Georgia (might be better going off games), Rominia, Spain possibly Russia who played Samoa on a 4 day turn around and Samoa on a long rest.

Samoa and Tonga play these teams every AI as they should plus get a T1 game (how is that fair). Because the SH don't play European T2 sides (though many think the 6Ns are) they end up getting no T1 games.

A simple solution is that WR get there finger out and set up a Division 2 WC played 2 years after each WC.  All teams who finished 4th and 5th must qualify from a 16 team tournament to get there place in the next WC

5 European based on B6N
3 America's based on America cup
1 Asia based on Asian cup
1 African based on African (gold) cup
2 PIs based on PI cup
Winner of Europe 6 v PI 3
Winner of America 4 v Asia 2
Winner of Africa 2 v Europe 7
Group stages played in nation who finished 4th in WC pool
Top 2 from each group get WC spot
8 quarter finalist go into 2 groups during AIs with winner playing each other

Quarters
G1
Samoa
Georgia
Rominia
USA

G2
Tonga
Nambia
Uraguary
Spain/Canada

Helps them play games that mean something
Also means that the PIs can hold games at home.

TV deal while not massive would bring in some to offset cost and most teams are travelling then anyway.

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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:02 pm

Old Man wrote:So realistically where do teams rate in terms of tiers?

If you consider top tier teams (ignore rankings, I am basing it on competitiveness)

NZ, England, Wales, SA, Ireland, Australia

France, Argentina, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Fiji

Followed by the rest?

No.

More like...

1. NZ

1A. Eng, SA.
1B. Ireland, Wales, France

1ish. Argentina, Scotland, Italy
2ish. Fiji, Japan

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Post by Afro on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:05 pm

miaow wrote:
Old Man wrote:So realistically where do teams rate in terms of tiers?

If you consider top tier teams (ignore rankings, I am basing it on competitiveness)

NZ, England, Wales, SA, Ireland, Australia

France, Argentina, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Fiji

Followed by the rest?

No.

More like...

1. NZ

1A. Eng, SA.
1B. Ireland, Wales, France

1ish. Argentina, Scotland, Italy
2ish. Fiji, Japan

Cor, that's harsh on Australia!!

If you put Australia in that 1B group I'd agree. France tend to fluctuate between 1B and 1ish depending on what they have on their croissants that morning
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Post by tigertattie on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:17 pm

Its a bit suspect that SANZAR are now looking at Japan following the commercial success of this world cup.

They've never been interested in japan until now. Money talks eh.

We'll see how interested they still are when the World Cup Hype Train leaves Japan.

Sorry but the Japan fairytale will start to slide back down to a level behind the T1 teams again. The full season of training together and the resources given to the national team will not be around after the world cup.

SANSAR need to get thier finger out if they genuinely want to help to bring on rugby in T2 nations. Going to those nations to play them on a regular basis would help.

Gerogia were absolutely over the moon that Scotland went to play them this year. First T1 side to go visit Georgia. The irony is that Scotland are arguabley the lowest T1 side so going to visit Georgia wasnt really that much of a step down for them.

Imagine your own union getting a call

"Hi, we're one of the SH sides, we'd like to come and tour in your lovely country for a 3 match series. Imagine the excitement and full stadia. can we speak to your union chairman please?"

"Oooo, that sounds lovely Mr big SH side, who may I say is calling?"

"Yes, its Argentina"

Not quite the same as NZ or SA coming to town is it!
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Post by miaow on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:18 pm

Haha, yes, good point. I'd say Oz are between IA and 1B. Ireland and Wales capable of that too, but by and large, fair to say there's a difference between Eng/SA and the rest. France's domestic league and unfulfilled potential keeps them in 1B for me. They should be 1A.

Probably should have left a gap between 1ish and 2ish as well. There is a big difference in my opinion. Remains to be seen how that closes/changes over time.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:28 pm

Current (before future knowledge changes it at the weekend Wink)

1.  NZ - England (not because they meet but because really I think closest in potency)


1B. SA - Wales (not because they meet but because really I think closest in potency)

1C. Ireland, Australia, Japan (two of them because of stagnancy - the other because that's how they played)

1D. Scotland, Argentina, France (too erratic to be up, too good to be all the way down - sides missing something important to shift fortunes.... possibly coach)

2.  The Rest.

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Post by The Oracle on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:34 pm

Are people really suggesting that we drop Italy or Scotland and fly in Japan? You can't just cherry pick available teams and fly them half way around the world for a competition just because you think they're better! The 6N is a European competition and works because of the relative location of its teams. I cannot see the point of changing that (a Euro comp) to add Japan. I could see the benefit of a pacific nations tournament, so NZ, Oz, Fiji, Japan.... maybe the 4 nations could/should change and SA step out? But just adding teams due to them having a good run doesn't seem the best way to do things. Who next? China in the 6N if they get their act together?

The other thing that needs to be looked at more closely is Japan's WC prep. I think Miaow was alluding to it above. They've had a great run, can't take that away from them. But Joseph says they've have over 240 days together in camp this year. 240! That's unheard of. A 34 week training camp, essentially. Join the 6N and they'll never get that sort of time together again, so I think it is a valid thing to raise and to question whether they could do that again in a 'normal' domestic competition with competing interests such as club tournaments and club cup competitions. And that's where people are questioning whether, in a 'normal' set up, would they be better than Scotland? I'm skeptical.
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Post by hugehandoff on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:37 pm

How about separate Southern and Northern hemisphere tournaments every 4 years in between the RWCs? Would give all tier 2 sides more exposure to tier 1 and break up the monotony of the existing format. But would no doubt lose money by replacing some tier 1 V tier 1 matches with a tier 2 fixture? I would not want anything as protracted as the RWC and therefore has to be more condensed. Group stages and maybe just semi and a final.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 12:41 pm

I agree with Hansen we need a global calendar which brings everything in line. Would start to make options much simpler.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 1:04 pm

hugehandoff wrote:How about separate Southern and Northern hemisphere tournaments every 4 years in between the RWCs? Would give all tier 2 sides more exposure to tier 1 and break up the monotony of the existing format. But would no doubt lose money by replacing some tier 1 V tier 1 matches with a tier 2 fixture? I would not want anything as protracted as the RWC and therefore has to be more condensed. Group stages and maybe just semi and a final.  

Would that mean more or less International rugby? 6N? RC? Lions? Would they be fitted in or dispensed with?

Because if it's more International games, then you know who'll be the first to shout No! PRL and Top14.

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Post by 123456789. on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 1:59 pm

I do not think a global calendar is a good idea. We all have our reasons for our own seasons. Hansen's demands amount to "why don't they just do things the way that we do?". His criticism that England do not play New Zealand enough because they won't change to a global league is another expression of that exact sentiment. The current system of the Six Nations as an individual tournament in it's own right is exceptionally lucrative to our unions and very dear to the hearts of all of our supporters. Whether Hansen likes it or not the primary motive for the existence of the SRU, RFU, IRFU and WRU is to further rugby in their respective nations. There are ways to expand rugby to a wider audience without damaging the aspects of it that we like. I strongly suspect that Steve Hansen's motives are primarily driven not to further the interest of rugby's aspiring nations but rather by his frustration that European rugby will not simply play to the tune of New Zealand. I think it is very difficult to take Steve Hansen's affected anxiety for the future of rugby's minnow nations seriously when in his eight year tenure they have played a grand total of one game in Samoa, Fiji or Tonga.
I do, nonetheless, commend the apparent intent in bringing Japan back into the SANZAAR fold. However there is surely a better way of doing things. Giving domestic sides and international sides a foothold in top tier international rugby teams has not really worked. Argentina have gone backwards since they joined the Rugby Championship, Italy have gone even further. Both of these decision were made on the back of brilliant generations that have come through and stirred things up amongst the big countries. Italy beat four of the
Five Nations prior to joining. Argentina reached World Cup Semi Finals and regularly beat Tier One sides prior to joining the Rugby Championship. Since 2011 they have won five matches in thirty-one against the traditional five Nations. So simply plonking Japan into these tournaments won't cement their place at the top table.
I have to say I agree with Hugehandoff, the fact is we need to look at doing something different. Regional competitions within the World Cup cycle seem a logical way of achieving this. If they were to happen in Lions years we know that five of the Tier One Nations will not be at full strength as it is, these tournaments would provide a for them to expand their playing group and see how their fringe players cope under tournament conditions. It would mean biannual competition for all of the emerging nations. In Europe it would seem silly to expand much beyond the Championship so having the Six Nations and European Championship sides in a knockout tournament based on tournament rankings, with Canada and the USA also and two teams from the third division of European Rugby. Four groups of four teams, with semi-finals and a final would mean four games in total. There could be three tiers, with the first place teams in the group going through to play each other, the second place teams playing each other and so on. It would mean five matches rather than the customary three or four, a small price for the expansion of our game. A similar tournament for the Southern Hemisphere (including Japan who have aligned themselves with rugby's southern hemisphere) could be held concurrently. It would effectively divide the rugby calendar into a traditional year followed by a progressive year. We could still have the Tier One test series that we all cherish and love. The Lions would still be there for the traditionalists. The expansion would be there for the modernists and there's no huge clash between them.

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Post by Old Man on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:14 pm

The biggest hurdle in my opinion is that club rugby is in competition with test rugby.

The French top 14 is a hell of a long season which complicates matters for contracted players that want to represent their countries.

Therefor the international season suffers because of it.

Perhaps it is time to separate the two.

If the rugby unions start contracting an international squad to be available for the full year rather than now and then, you remove half the complications of what currently exists.

There will then be plenty of time for international teams to play Six Nations, rugby championships, pacific nations cup and a host of international tours.

Plenty of time for the tier two nations to be invited into competitions where they can regularly compete against top tier nations.

Players can then either be club players or international players.

Players that are available can be drafted in or moved back to clubs if they arent measuring up to international standard.

Clubs get their wish and don’t lose players and the international season opens up

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:38 pm

Old Man wrote:The biggest hurdle in my opinion is that club rugby is in competition with test rugby.

The French top 14 is a hell of a long season which complicates matters for contracted players that want to represent their countries.

Therefor the international season suffers because of it.

Perhaps it is time to separate the two.

If the rugby unions start contracting an international squad to be available for the full year rather than now and then, you remove half the complications of what currently exists.

There will then be plenty of time for international teams to play Six Nations, rugby championships, pacific nations cup and a host of international tours.

Plenty of time for the tier two nations to be invited into competitions where they can regularly compete against top tier nations.

Players can then either be club players or international players.

Players that are available can be drafted in or moved back to clubs if they arent measuring up to international standard.

Clubs get their wish and don’t lose players and the international season opens up

But then you happen to point out what I've always suspected WR wants from their Global Season ideas.  Exactly what you say - 12 month International globe trotting sides.  Cricket.  Turning International into 'clubs'.  Big investment from Networks and all the usual corpo sponsors.  

I don't want International to become Club.  Plenty of Club already exists...same audience.  Saturation coverage lowers the importance of these games.  
Aids money making of course (biggest reason out there despite the guff about Tier 2) but for me, it seems to predict faster player burnout, more turnover of players necessary, more pressure to 'clubise' International players, eventually allowing them to shift around Nations on a whim and a nice salary hike, more difficulty for smaller Nations replacing International players, like with like, on two levels - smaller pool, smaller funding.

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Post by Old Man on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:46 pm

SecretFly wrote:
Old Man wrote:The biggest hurdle in my opinion is that club rugby is in competition with test rugby.

The French top 14 is a hell of a long season which complicates matters for contracted players that want to represent their countries.

Therefor the international season suffers because of it.

Perhaps it is time to separate the two.

If the rugby unions start contracting an international squad to be available for the full year rather than now and then, you remove half the complications of what currently exists.

There will then be plenty of time for international teams to play Six Nations, rugby championships, pacific nations cup and a host of international tours.

Plenty of time for the tier two nations to be invited into competitions where they can regularly compete against top tier nations.

Players can then either be club players or international players.

Players that are available can be drafted in or moved back to clubs if they arent measuring up to international standard.

Clubs get their wish and don’t lose players and the international season opens up

But then you happen to point out what I've always suspected WR wants from their Global Season ideas.  Exactly what you say - 12 month International globe trotting sides.  Cricket.  Turning International into 'clubs'.  Big investment from Networks and all the usual corpo sponsors.  

I don't want International to become Club.  Plenty of Club already exists...same audience.  Saturation coverage lowers the importance of these games.  
Aids money making of course (biggest reason out there despite the guff about Tier 2) but for me, it seems to predict faster player burnout, more turnover of players necessary, more pressure to 'clubise' International players, eventually allowing them to shift around Nations on a whim and a nice salary hike, more difficulty for smaller Nations replacing International players, like with like, on two levels - smaller pool, smaller funding.

I don’t get why you say international rugby turns into club?

I disagree with player burnout, it should in fact be the opposite. Better player management, less matches.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:54 pm

Why would there be a need for less matches if there was a breed of player designated International and another breed that stayed in club?

A separation is what you suggested.  More games is more money.  Less games is less money.  If you have that virtual separate entity deemed International, and are paying the players and coaches, you need them to be playing. International would establish itself a virtual League that would last as long as a regular club season does now...only more airmiles.


Last edited by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Cyril on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:56 pm

Not sure Oldman’s proposal would work (not would I want it to).

You would find the better players in club rugby rather than internationals. Internationals would end up like the 7s circuit. Players would not want to be taken out of the club game.

We need fewer international games not more. Club rugby is great and is the lifeblood of the game, not internationals. What makes international games special is the scarcity of them.

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Post by Old Man on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 2:59 pm

SecretFly wrote:Why would there be a need for less matches if there was a breed of player designated International and another breed that stayed in club?

A separation is what you suggested.  More games is more money.  Less games is less money.  If you have that virtual separate entity deemed International, and are paying the players and coaches, you need them to be playing.

Yes, more matches but the international players won’t burnout because they only play tests, currently you have roughly 12-14 tests per year.

lets take a six nations tram as an example.

5 matches in the six nations
a 3 match tour to SH team
a 3 match home series
Then a 2 match tour to say Georgia, and they reciprocate with a two match tour in Cardiff.

total 15 matches.

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Post by SecretFly on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 3:04 pm

Cyril wrote:Not sure Oldman’s proposal would work (not would I want it to).

You would find the better players in club rugby rather than internationals. Internationals would end up like the 7s circuit. Players would not want to be taken out of the club game.

We need fewer international games not more. Club rugby is great and is the lifeblood of the game, not internationals. What makes international games special is the scarcity of them.

I agree that less is more as regards International but I actually think the balance right now is okay...

If anything had to go in International, for me it would be Lions and just keep giving International sides one on one encounters.  That's the game.

If you can't beat NZ on your own then you should use International time to bloody well try to establish the players and systems to do so, not send often more than half your regular Internationals off on a jamboree to try to beat the ABs using a combination of four International sides.  It gets bloody embarrassing actually.

So Lions dissolved and real one on one competition prioritised.

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Post by 123456789. on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 3:28 pm

I wouldn't touch the Lions. There's so much history there and it attracts the attention of the world. There's so much more to it than just a conventional tour. It's the getting together of four identities and forging a proper team together almost overnight. I honestly think the 2017 Lions tour was the greatest test series in rugby history.
This notion that it's embarrassing for us to put four sides together involves a fairly fatal amount of national solipsism. It's a big deal for New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans precisely because of that challenge. To play in a Lions series is usually a once in a career event. Maybe Frans Steyn might manage to make it two in 2021 but there's no one else that I can think of with a chance. Likewise for the players on our side they've had to fight to be the best not in one country but in four. We see such a high standard precisely because players raise their game so much.
I do think, like all aspects, the Lions need to look at ways of being more inclusive. Every four years we see pundits whinging that the standard of opposition is not high enough in the run up to the series. Our teams play groups of amateurs pulled together and dismiss them with relative ease. The Lions could be a vehicle to expansion, a fixture against Namibia (obviously not the highest standard of opposition) would be a kind gesture in 2021 especially considering the Namibians lost out on a game in the World Cup. The Australians are down to four super rugby teams now. In 2013 the Lions played seven warm up games. Five against the Franchises, one against combined country (which they won by 61 points) and another against the Barbarians (which they won by 51 points). In the future would it not be better to stop off in Japan instead of Hong Kong? Instead of two games against a collection of Australian amateurs why not look to play a two test series against the Pacific Islanders? The same number of games but more meaningful occasions and better preparation.

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