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Is it time for the six nations to be a European Championship?

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broadlandboy
Eustace H Plimsoll
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Post by mckay1402 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 10:47 am

As much as I love the old tournament we can't hide the fact that some of these tier two nations are catching us up and need more exposure at a higher level. Romania and Georgia are not far off the level that Italy were when they joined the Six Nations and will soon be pushing for a place among the big boys. I think it's time we found space in world rugby for these teams and perhaps played a bi annual tournament including some of these lower tier nations. Either that or have a promotion, relegation system from the top tier to the lower tier...wouldn't be popular initially but it would give the Six Nations a bit of a revamp and perhaps some more interest in the lower teams
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Post by hugehandoff Tue 20 Sep 2011, 11:06 am

There is definitely a requirement to support the lower tier nations as we really do want a more competitve global game. How that is done is difficult as no doubt money makes the world go round. Georgia and Romania deserve more games against the top nations but it won't attract the TV money like games between top tier nations. Should they just be included in the Autumn Internationals or should we go to a 8 nation tournament. Maybe 2 groups of 4 with the top 2 in each group playing semi-finals and then a final. The downside with that is then some famous old fixtures may get missed for a year.....imagine no Calcutta cup or Wales V France. Plus the club game needs protecting as there is no more room in the rugby calendar.

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Post by mckay1402 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 11:08 am

I know it's a big problem but one we won't be able to ignore for much longer if we genuinely want to develop these nations.
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Post by robbo277 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 11:44 am

There are 7 weeks put away for the Six Nations, and there are 5 games. We could have a quick European Championship in that time.

3 pools of 4, something like:
England
Italy
Georgia
Ukraine

France
Scotland
Romania
Spain

Ireland
Wales
Portugal
Russia

Similar format to the JWC, in that the three pool winners and the best runner-up go through to the cup semis, the other two runners-up and the best two third placed teams go into a plate and the other 4 go into a bowl. Finals and "bronze" finals, so that everyone gets 5 games. Real competition to get into the cup semi-finals, at least two Six Nations teams would be in the plate to ensure that there is still some interest in the plate and everyone is gauranteed 5 games.

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Post by HammerofThunor Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:12 pm

robbo, wouldn't be against it. The pools could be decided based on the previous years results.

Currently the 6 nations and ENC (1st year) standings are:

England
France
Ireland
Wales
Scotland
Italy
Georgia
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Spain
Ukraine

So the three pools would be (if we go top plays top rather than top against bottom)

England
Wales
Georgia
Russia

France
Scotland
Portugal
Spain

Ireland
Italy
Romania
Ukraine

I'd watch

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Post by robbo277 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:26 pm

I divided it up by:

1, 6, 7, 12 (sum = 26)
2, 5, 8, 11 (sum = 26)
3, 4, 9, 10 (sum = 26)

But it could just be done on a random draw. I'm not normally a fan of uneven pools and best runners-up, but I think with the 6 Nations being the 6 Nations having 3 pools (and therefore 2 top nations in every pool) with only 1 team guaranteed to get into the cup knock-out should really cause some strong competition.

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Post by tomhughesnice Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:27 pm

I think the days of the six nations may be numbered, a European championship every two years I think should be put in place in the future.. Maybe the six nations should be played every other year while the European championship is being trialled.

But I think the six nations will be around for a while, its just got too much history and great rivalry's. I think the lions tour will be abandoned within the next 10-15 years in favour of a new European Rugby competition. One of the Six nations or Lions tour will have to go, and I think it will come down to a vote. I dont think theirs much room for the lions tour anymore in the professional era.

For any of this to happen though, I think we need a tier 2 nation to beat or really challenge a tier 1 nation on the scoreboard for any of this to be put in motion.

Having a tier 1 and tier 2 competition doesn't really give the tier 2 teams enough exposure to the better playing nations.

Having serious competition regularly will hopefully help stimulate their own domestic leagues too. As most of the tier 2 nations best players all play in other countries leagues.. But it will need huge investment to setup a good professional team in the likes of Georgia.



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Post by robbo277 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:31 pm

I think the sooner we get a European competition the better. As soon as we get a little bit of integration between tier 1 and tier 2 European countries the better. At current we can't have promotion/relegation from the Six Nations because a "traditional" rugby nation could fall into obscurity (not a fan of protectionism personally), but if we can make a relegation from the Six Nations non-fatal by building up the second level, then we can start moving towards full integration.

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Post by HammerofThunor Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:33 pm

The last place could then be swapped with the top team in the current 6 nations B (Moldova, Germany, etc).
I divided it up by:

1, 6, 7, 12 (sum = 26)
2, 5, 8, 11 (sum = 26)
3, 4, 9, 10 (sum = 26)

Seems fair. If you repeated it each year it would mean there's competition for each place. No extra games, travel costs should be similar (is ENC played gome and away?). One possible downside is reduced attendances at some games. And reduced TV pot?

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Post by The WarLord Mashaka Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:39 pm

@tomhughesnice

I think Lions tours are not a thing of the past if organized properly.

If Oz/NZ/SA won’t play their stars in provincial matches then we should play mid-week matches vs. Namibia, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and the likes.


Last edited by The WarLord Mashaka on Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by robbo277 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:42 pm

ENC is played home and away over a couple of seasons. Maybe ENC could play over 1 year (4 games in the spring, 3 in the summer and 3 in the autumn)? Play the Six Nations/ENC in even years, European Cups in odd years or something. There would be promotion/relegation into the Nations Cup first division, so tier 3 teams would get a shot if they win the second division.

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 12:46 pm

Call me selfish if you like and I fully expect to be lambasted for the comments I'm about to make.

Yes I want to see the game grow in teir 2 nations in Europe, who wouldn't?

However I would not want to see the 6N consigned to the history books by our deperate attempts to raise the profile of the game in these teir 2 countries.

By all means lets Invite Romania and Georgia into the 6N to make it either the 7N or 8N. However I would not want to see the 6N banished or become a bi annual tournament for the sake of some tin pot tournament. I love the fact that we can welcome the likes of the Irish, English, Welsh or any other fans to our stadium on a regular basis. The tournament format suggested could end all that.

To be brutally honest I just don't care enough about the fate of Romania or Georgia's rugby to scrafice what is the highlight of the rugby season for me. By all means bring them into the tournament, but I would rather the club game suffers rather than the 6N.

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Post by HammerofThunor Tue 20 Sep 2011, 1:30 pm

Difference of opinions I suppose. I countn't care less about the traditions of the 6 nations to be honest. It's a competition that England play in to me. I prefer it to the 'friendlies' simply because it is a competition. Playing the same teams every year gets a bit boring for me. Same as playing the same AI every gets boring. With the IRB trying to bring back proper tours it'll be interesting to see how it changes.

NB I don't doubt for a second I'm in the minority.

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 1:37 pm

HammerofThunor wrote:
France
Scotland
Portugal
Spain

The Idea is Noble.

But would I as a Scotland fan feel even remotely interested in a tournament that would not see us play England, Wales, Ireland and Italy and meeting up with friends I have made on countless visits to Dublin, Cardiff, London and Rome and likewise miss the oppertunity to welcome them to Edinburgh? Absolutley not.

The thought of a tournament where Scotland would only play a maximum of 2 home games against possibly 2 teams that will most likely get destroyed is not my Idea of interesting, and in truth probably not a Viable way to raise the rugby playing capabilities of the teir 2 nations.
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Post by lostinwales Tue 20 Sep 2011, 1:43 pm

Would be nice to see something every couple of years or so - or every 4 years spaced so that it was mid way between world cups - but for a long time the winner would be the same as in the 6N so other than development of the other teams there is no point.

What might be better for a while is something based more on the Churchill cup format - A teams from the 6N and the main teams from the rest of europe

Could be played using a JWC style format. Who knows.

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Post by The Rakish Brigand Tue 20 Sep 2011, 1:44 pm

Leave the 6 Nations alone and let the likes of Romania and Georgia play the A teams of the tier 1 nations. It's a very simple but effective solution for the time being.

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Post by The Rakish Brigand Tue 20 Sep 2011, 1:45 pm

Leave the 6 Nations alone and let the likes of Romania and Georgia play the A teams of the tier 1 nations. It's a very simple but effective solution for the time being.

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Post by fa0019 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:08 pm

Why not have the winners of the ENC enter into a 2 match playoff vs. the bottom 6N side each year?

Outside of Georgia I don't see anyone challenging for a place now or in the next 10 years.

If either Scot or ITA were to be relagated it would probably bankrupt either union mind. But still if Georgia are good enough or even superior to some in the 6N then they have a right to compete.

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Post by tomhughesnice Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:14 pm

Maybe create another Churchhill cup for Europe? Until the lower teams can really compete with the 'A' teams, theres actually no point in putting them against the top teams.

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Post by LordDowlais Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:18 pm

I think Italy's result against Russia today has shown that the tier two teams are just not ready. If you put it into context, Italy usually struggle to get past 5th place at best, yet Russia could not hold a candle to their second team. So in my opinion, these teir two countries should learn to walk before they can run, and realistically, although the might come good in "the future", they should keep playing the teams around them, and leave the six nations alone. I would not begrudge them an autumn freindly though. Hug

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Post by niwatts Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:36 pm

It'll be interesting to see what arises next year. The IRB called an end to the Churchill Cup this year with the aim of organising proper summer tours for the lower tier nations, hosting and travelling.

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Post by Shifty Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:44 pm

I think the IRB is doing a lot for the smaller nations.

They have created the 6 Nations B,C,D etc, etc. The Pacific Nations Cup, the Asian 5 Nations A,B,C etc. So competitions are in place for these countries to get regular matches.
Tours to Japan, Canada, Usa, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa are now mandatory.

Sadly it's been proven throwing the odd game to these countries a season doesn't work, you need to raise the standards week to week for the players to play in. After the 2003 World Cup it was suggested that the smaller nations be given chances to play against top Nations, South Africa offered Uruguay a game and the game ended 134-3, which makes a joke of international rugby.

Argentina have joined the 4 Nations, hopefully Buenos Aires will join the Super 15, and 2 Italian teams have already joined the Celtic league, which will make them more competitive.

There is scope to expand the Amlin Cup to be similar to the football UEFA Cup and include the league winners from countries that have put in semi-pro / professional infrastructure so their game could improve,
Italy have 5 Semi Pro club sides in the competition, these teams should be removed as their fully professional sides Aironi and Treviso play in the Heinaken Cup. It should be limited to 5 English teams, 5 French teams (1 per pool), and the league winners from other European Nations.
Bucharest Wolves from Romania.
VVA-Podmoskovye Monino from Russia.
Lelo Tbilisi from Georgia
This could more expose to European rugby.

Finally I think the IRB should introduce a 16 country, 4 pools of 4 teams, European Cup to run during the Lions tours, the 6 Nations can play A teams while the 6 Nations B and C teams can use their full sides.
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Post by Guest Tue 20 Sep 2011, 2:47 pm

i dont think the tournament should get bigger, but what i think is the team that finishes bottom, maybe plays a play off game, agains the next best ranked team after the teams in the six nations, and the winner of that game gets into 6 nations and team that loeses has to earn their way back in, so most likely italy would have to play georgia for example...

just an idea..

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Post by LordDowlais Tue 20 Sep 2011, 3:02 pm

I am all for expanding the game of rugby, but until the tier two side can show that they have an infrastructure there, i.e a fully professional league, enough interest from the population ect, then there is no point in pushing this, as I posted on this thread earlier, Italy's second side have shown their Russian counterparts their own behinds today, and the Italy first team struggles to finish 5th in the 6 nations. If they were to finish last we would have Italy playing one of the tier two teams in a play-off which would just be one sided. The tier two nations need to walk before they run, perhaps give them tours like the IRB are suggesting, then give them some autumn internationals, then, and I mean, THEN, when they start upsetting the applecart, like Samoa are doing, they can stake a claim to join the big boy's, just as Argentina have done.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Tue 20 Sep 2011, 3:02 pm

Not untill the sides coming through are serious contenders, add something to the comeptition other than numbers, and show signs of nbeing able to bring investement and growth and deveolpe paproper league.

Otehrwise you are sacrificing European club rugby for meaningless games angainst low rent opposition.

Italy have only recently started to justify their inclussion in a tournament that they still have no hope of winning in at least the next 5 years. The 6 nations is a worthwhile event because its full of cliose battles between intense rvials, not just a load of fixtures where people patroinise the plucky underdog because they only lost by 30 points.

Killing the game in the counries where its just about functional ( and thats barely) isnt goign to help everyone. Endless low rent internationals is boring and darining, yet you continue to deny the clubs their players and ruin that as well.
Or you keep it teh same length and ruin the international acalender and reduce the income that keeps the game alive.

Im all for integrating sides and expanding the game but trying to rush it just doesnt work and develaues what you have. I love the 6 nations, its far more interesting than the world cup pool games. Dont kill it.

At some point soon Georgia may be able to make a case for inclusion. The likes of Russia, Spain, Portugal and Germany no way. Not till they seriously improve their internal game yet. The assumption that a sport only grows because of international fixtures, and that all internationals trump club games regardless of quality is foolish.

Im compolektly with Ragdge on this. It gets mooted every week by someone with a bizzare new way of ruining what we have just to "include" the no hopers whilst paying no regard to what makes the 6 nations work and what is viable or what would really benefit long term growth of the game for the big and small nations and TV audiences.

The quality of a spoorting contest shouldnt be judged by the number of participants but by the quality of that comeptition.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Tue 20 Sep 2011, 3:06 pm

cricketfan90 wrote:i dont think the tournament should get bigger, but what i think is the team that finishes bottom, maybe plays a play off game, agains the next best ranked team after the teams in the six nations, and the winner of that game gets into 6 nations and team that loeses has to earn their way back in, so most likely italy would have to play georgia for example...

just an idea..

Yeah its a great idea for killing the progeresws Italy have made or putting the final nail in Scotlands coffin then allow a Union with a short term unsustainable investemnt to come up and reduce the quality of the competition.


No thanks.


Inclussion needs to be judged on more than just winning a game. It needs tro be judged on what the Union is bringing to the table and where they are heading long term. Once you are in you are in for a long period, that way investments can be made with the long term view.

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Post by westisbest Tue 20 Sep 2011, 3:52 pm

Keep the 6N as it is.

Either (as said above), have a european style churchill cup.

Or I like the idea of Georgia/Russia etc playing 2 or 3 of the 6N 'A' teams in the autumn.

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Post by pete (buachaill on eirne) Tue 20 Sep 2011, 4:19 pm

Whatever happens can we please get some of these teams playing more, they love playing aginst the big guns really fires them up. And let's play it at their home grounds to get the local people out and exposed to rugby etc, would do the game a world of good.

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Post by chewed_mintie Tue 20 Sep 2011, 4:48 pm

Tours to these countries would help. Maybe midweek matches by the likes of NZ, Aus and SA to get the ball rolling. Let thr dirt trackers play Georgia in Tbilisi on a Tues/Weds night and then the test side runs out against say Eng on the Saturday. As it would be the All Blacks/Springboks and not an A team it would give more prestige to the game

But hey what am I talking about, these teams don't even come to Manchester why would they go east?

It'd only work with a guaranteed income from TV and help from the IRB to keep the costs down

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Post by BATH_BTGOG Tue 20 Sep 2011, 4:52 pm

Georgia aren't far off.

I'd say they are better than Italy when they joined the 5 nations
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Post by Shifty Tue 20 Sep 2011, 8:07 pm

BATH_BTGOG wrote:Georgia aren't far off.

I'd say they are better than Italy when they joined the 5 nations

Italy got lucky and had a very good group of players at around 1994, the problem is after the 1995 World Cup they all pretty much retired at the same time, and they joined the 6 Nations with a young inexperienced team, who struggled to get anywhere near the older players level.
Though Italy would appear to be moving in the right direction with Treviso and Aironi joining the Celtic league, the teams have now fallen into the same trap as the Welsh regions and have now recruited foreign players instead of developing their own younger players.
The Italian fly half today against Russia has had to move back to semi pro club rugby because there isn't a place for him in the 2 professional teams, so it's a case of good enough for Italy but not for one of the 2 professional teams.

Several tier B Nations have got lucky and had a good group of players together at the same time who could cause upsets, Canada in the early 90's, Argentina in 2007, Romania in the 80's Italy in the early 90's etc, but none of them have sustained the success because they didn't have the week to week competiton or international fixtures to build.
Sadly there is only so many games a rugby player can play, and adding Italy to the Celtic league and 6 nations, and adding Argentina to 3 Nations has pretty much filled up any spare spaces we had in the fixture list.
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Post by The Great Aukster Tue 20 Sep 2011, 8:28 pm

This old chestnut again!

Tinkering with the successful 6N format will only weaken it without doing anything to develop these nations. Has Italy really developed in the last 11 years? It took France four times as long as that to become competitive in the 5N.

Simply putting teams into a championship against better teams just exposes their weaknesses. They need bigger player pools and that only comes by investment at grass roots level. The IRB should levy a "development tax" on their members to allow coaches and development officers to be employed in these countries to engender more interest. That is how to grow the game NOT hammering them on the pitch every two years in a bridesmaid tournament.

They will develop by having money pumped into rugby at lower levels

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Post by Taffineastbourne Tue 20 Sep 2011, 8:50 pm

Why not have Lions tour to Europesn countries?The whole point was to develop/promote the game.

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Post by Shifty Tue 20 Sep 2011, 9:21 pm

Taffineastbourne wrote:Why not have Lions tour to Europesn countries?The whole point was to develop/promote the game.
Nice idea but maybe better the Barbarians do it?
All the home nations chip in a few players. thumbsup
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Post by mckay1402 Tue 20 Sep 2011, 9:25 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:This old chestnut again!

Tinkering with the successful 6N format will only weaken it without doing anything to develop these nations. Has Italy really developed in the last 11 years? It took France four times as long as that to become competitive in the 5N.

Simply putting teams into a championship against better teams just exposes their weaknesses. They need bigger player pools and that only comes by investment at grass roots level. The IRB should levy a "development tax" on their members to allow coaches and development officers to be employed in these countries to engender more interest. That is how to grow the game NOT hammering them on the pitch every two years in a bridesmaid tournament.

They will develop by having money pumped into rugby at lower levels


Yes Italy have developed massively and the game in Italy has had its profile raised to an enormous extent. did you not realise they beat France recently

You can't really compare France entering the tournament 100 years ago to now. the whole set up is different as are attitudes.
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Post by The Great Aukster Tue 20 Sep 2011, 11:14 pm

Italy had some impressive wins before they joined the 5N, and they have continued to have sporadic wins - so what's changed?

They are one team who have had the luxury of 11 years in top flight company, yet it is not obvious how far they have improved. They also have a relatively large amount of funding compared to the other European nations mentioned and a first class coach, yet they would be prime candidates to be relegated if such a system existed in the 6N, (which would undoubtedly undo a lot of progress they've made). So rather than promote a new minnow to be a contender, such a policy would demote a journeyman country to an also-ran.

Despite having twenty teams there really isn't the level of competition to convince anyone that the RWC has any more than half a dozen genuine contenders. A European lite version would have even less contenders and the notion that the prize is actually devauled would arise because the acknowledged strongest six teams may not be participating. That is also bad for the fans who are the lifeblood of rugby and like the certainty of booking a hotel two years in advance in a favourite away venue.

England to their credit have tried to help Canada and the USA via the Churchill Cup. Again two countries with massive rugby potential, yet how successful has that experiment been?
The idea that playing better teams somehow galvanises a country into embracing rugby has been shown to be a fallacy and hasn't borne fruit nor is it likely to, any time soon.

Perhaps there is some evidence I'm missing that proves why these ideas would do anything but damage?

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Post by mckay1402 Wed 21 Sep 2011, 12:00 pm

http://sportsjacket.wordpress.com/category/rugby-union/
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Post by Eustace H Plimsoll Wed 21 Sep 2011, 8:38 pm

Have a European Churchill cup as others have said. Then in some years' time perhaps have a separate European competition for Georgia, Russia, Portugal etc. and let the winner of that competition play off against the bottom-placed team in the 6N for a chance to join next year's competition. If they're still getting pasted by that team then they're not ready.

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Post by broadlandboy Wed 21 Sep 2011, 10:49 pm

hello 1st time on. Felt I had to put the point that until the weekly competition is harder they wont match the higher nations. Best players from Georgia & Romania are playing in France. Tough weekly rugby not just 6 games a year internationals.

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Post by mckay1402 Thu 22 Sep 2011, 9:24 am

Totally agree with that broadlandboy. I think the international stuff is just a start. perhaps eventually we'll have a Europe wide club league extended from the Rabo which would enable promotion and relegation. That would be pretty cool.
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Post by broadlandboy Thu 22 Sep 2011, 11:51 am

How about a 2nd division for other countries. Regional teams with a max of three teams from a country. Would need financial support to get started, is this something IRB could do? To start with better players would drift to Rabo/Aviva/Top 14 but as standard increases would stay at home. Similar to what is happening in Italy. If standard becomes good enough promotion/relegation with Rabo(regional as opposed to clubs in Aviva/Top 14)

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Post by Shifty Thu 22 Sep 2011, 4:05 pm

Wouldn't it be fairer for the team finishing bottom of the 6 Nations to play an away game against the winning team of the 6 Nations B away from home but without promotion and relegation, simply to gauge the gulf between the divisions.

Though I think a fully fledged European Cup like the football one is a natural progression in time.
The home Nations will soon realise they will generate far more money from it, than a poxy 6 week Lions tour that damages their players and causes disrutption to their country.
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Post by Irish Curry Thu 22 Sep 2011, 4:23 pm

[quote="broadlandboy"]How about a 2nd division for other countries. Regional teams with a max of three teams from a country. Would need financial support to get started, is this something IRB could do? To start with better players would drift to Rabo/Aviva/Top 14 but as standard increases would stay at home. Similar to what is happening in Italy. If standard becomes good enough promotion/relegation with Rabo(regional as opposed to clubs in Aviva/Top 14)[/quote]

Thats not a bad idea actually, you were right in your earlyer post as well about players playing week in week out with is critical to these teams development. Clubs from these countrys should be included in the Amlin Cup and also the possiblity of pan european league or something along those lines.

It would be great if Georgia could be included more. Alot of their players play in France and they are capable of competeing to the same degree as Italy are against the other 5 teams in the 6N.
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Post by mr_stonelea Fri 23 Sep 2011, 4:10 pm

Why not have a pre-xmas tournament? The bottom side in last years 6 nations (at the moment Italy) against the other tier 2 sides, in order to qualify for the 6th spot? That way you keep the 6 Nations tradition, but there's an opportunity for a tier 2 side to break through

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Post by sportform Sun 25 Sep 2011, 12:28 am

Maybe you could have a European Championship every two or four years using the Six Nations as a group and have some thing along the lines of the Rugby League World Cup.

The top two in Six Nations qualify for Semi Finals. The 3rd and 4th go into a Play Off Round against the top 1st and 2nd in the second tier group.

The competition would work something like:-

Group A (Six Nations)
England
France
Ireland
Wales
Scotland
Italy

Group B
Georgia
Romania
Russia
Portugal
Spain
Ukraine

then

Play Offs
A3 v B2 (Ireland v Romania)
A4 v B1 (Wales v Georgia)

then Semi Finals and a Final.
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Post by yappysnap Mon 26 Sep 2011, 5:01 pm

How about letting the top 2 teams drop in to the Amlin?

Georgia vs teams like Munster or Clermont (just exxamples) would be great matches and i guarantee sell outs.

Gives these guys a taste of top level rugby and i can't see them taking pastings.

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