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Pichot's Tilt at Power - Rugby's Future

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Post by 123456789. on Mon Apr 13, 2020 8:32 pm

Agustin Pichot has announced he's running for World Rugby Chairman. Unfortunately the only in-depth article I could find with relative ease was in the Mail, so apologies for that. With the lull in rugby now, it seems a sensible time to discuss what Pichot's bid means and rugby's future generally.

Daily Mail wrote:Pichot's six-point plan includes:

Addressing the challenges of COVID-19 as part of a wider alignment of the global playing calendar, creating a 'compelling narrative' for men and women in XVs and Sevens. Clubs, unions and private equity firms will be consulted about an annual tournament featuring 12 to 14 Tests per nation per year.
A democratic governance structure. A long-term goal of scrapping the weighted vote system that gives more power to wealthy nations, as well as revenue sharing.
A growing grassroots and youth game, including focus on developing emerging nations such as Brazil and Tunisia.
A safe and entertaining game, featuring a dedicated World Rugby Innovation Department to look at projects such as Hawkeye technology and a flagship rugby computer game.
Mandatory athletes' commissions to put players at the heart of decision making – with discussions about reducing wages to create sustainability.
A World Rugby management 'fit for purpose' – reviewing all internal structures to 'restore trust' in the governing body.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-8211135/Argentinian-great-Agustin-Pichot-promises-revolution-challenges-World-Rugbys-job.html


Look like he's pretty set on the Nations Cup idea and breaking up the traditional rugby structures. I think one of the things people outside the Six Nations don't understand is that we don't want to change it because we actually quite like it. Equally running to scrap the voting rights of the old rugby nations doesn't work when the old rugby nations collectively hold 27 out of 50 votes. Nonetheless it is time for things to change. For rugby's commercial stability it's important to expand into new economies, it's interesting that Pichot has earmarked Brazil and Tunisia for this. Personally I am of the opinion that several nations give far more to our game than they get in return; primarily the Pacific Islanders, and that rugby will be a far more exciting sport if we can harness some of the world's bigger economies to create genuine rugby powers but that should not come at the expense of what we already love about our game. I love the Six Nations, not just because of the rugby but what it constitutes beyond rugby. As a Scotland fan I know that in a good year we could win the tournament, as a realist I know that we will never win a 12 team Nations league. Rugby needs to learn the lesson that bigger does not always constitute better.

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Post by profitius on Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:39 pm

123456789. wrote:Agustin Pichot has announced he's running for World Rugby Chairman. Unfortunately the only in-depth article I could find with relative ease was in the Mail, so apologies for that. With the lull in rugby now, it seems a sensible time to discuss what Pichot's bid means and rugby's future generally.

Daily Mail wrote:Pichot's six-point plan includes:

Addressing the challenges of COVID-19 as part of a wider alignment of the global playing calendar, creating a 'compelling narrative' for men and women in XVs and Sevens. Clubs, unions and private equity firms will be consulted about an annual tournament featuring 12 to 14 Tests per nation per year.
A democratic governance structure. A long-term goal of scrapping the weighted vote system that gives more power to wealthy nations, as well as revenue sharing.
A growing grassroots and youth game, including focus on developing emerging nations such as Brazil and Tunisia.
A safe and entertaining game, featuring a dedicated World Rugby Innovation Department to look at projects such as Hawkeye technology and a flagship rugby computer game.
Mandatory athletes' commissions to put players at the heart of decision making – with discussions about reducing wages to create sustainability.
A World Rugby management 'fit for purpose' – reviewing all internal structures to 'restore trust' in the governing body.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-8211135/Argentinian-great-Agustin-Pichot-promises-revolution-challenges-World-Rugbys-job.html


Look like he's pretty set on the Nations Cup idea and breaking up the traditional rugby structures. I think one of the things people outside the Six Nations don't understand is that we don't want to change it because we actually quite like it. Equally running to scrap the voting rights of the old rugby nations doesn't work when the old rugby nations collectively hold 27 out of 50 votes. Nonetheless it is time for things to change. For rugby's commercial stability it's important to expand into new economies, it's interesting that Pichot has earmarked Brazil and Tunisia for this. Personally I am of the opinion that several nations give far more to our game than they get in return; primarily the Pacific Islanders, and that rugby will be a far more exciting sport if we can harness some of the world's bigger economies to create genuine rugby powers but that should not come at the expense of what we already love about our game. I love the Six Nations, not just because of the rugby but what it constitutes beyond rugby. As a Scotland fan I know that in a good year we could win the tournament, as a realist I know that we will never win a 12 team Nations league. Rugby needs to learn the lesson that bigger does not always constitute better.


That's a myth. Rugby is probably the biggest earner in those islands. They can go from what, I'd guess an average £5,000 a year salary to earning hundreds of thousands for playing rugby. And World Rugby fund their nations greatly except they squander the money themselves.


As for Pichot, his goal is to get his hands on 6 nations money and distribute it to Argentina and the big southern 3.
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Post by tigertattie on Mon Apr 13, 2020 11:46 pm

World Rugby put a shed load of money into the PI nations but those unions are so corrupt the money doesn’t flow out to the rugby public.

If you want world rugby to do more then you need the tier one teams to go touring the PIs but they just don’t do it. Especially NZ and Oz.

Pichot is a dangerous man to be at the helm of world rugby. He’ll either reform rugby to open it up to other nations and drive it forward, or he’ll ruin rugby trying. Only time will tell.
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:42 am

It only takes one maverick from the established "old" countries to vote against the block to break it, Australia are in a perilous position financially, maybe them.

(30) Ten unions each have three votes and two delegates: Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales.[clarification needed]
(2) One union has two votes and one delegate: Japan.
(7) Six unions each have one vote and one delegate: Canada, Georgia, Fiji, Samoa, Romania, United States and Uruguay
(12) The six regional associations representing Europe, South America, Americas North, Africa, Asia and Oceania each have two votes and one delegate

That is 51 votes, the 6N countries will almost certainly vote as a block, Italy knows where it's bread is buttered. That is 18 votes, NZ and SA probably the same, but both are looking for more money from Europe, so 24 votes probable. Australia are in dire financial straights, they could have their heads turned.

Under those circumstances, if the main power block was outvoted, would the 6N countries break away rather than see their wealth distributed amongst the poorer nations by enforcing a system we don't want and that would not be good for either the players or the clubs. In England in particular and France the clubs hold the power, what would they do in such circumstances, off load their international players? They already have a separate body controlling the club game.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:49 am

Not much point in having a “democratic” voting system if the dead hold the rich countries have cannot be broken, or if it is eventually broken the rich take their toys and run.

Might as well have rugby be outright controlled by the wealthy block and stop the farce of democracy

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Post by Irish Londoner on Tue Apr 14, 2020 9:28 am

Old Man wrote:Not much point in having a “democratic” voting system if the dead hold the rich countries have cannot be broken, or if it is eventually broken the rich take their toys and run.

Might as well have rugby be outright controlled by the wealthy block and stop the farce of democracy

Remember the Golden Rule:

"The people who have the gold get to make the rules"....

On a more serious note, whilst I would (with certain caveats around how it is spent) be more than happy with funding going to the emerging and developing nations in the sport, however I would be very unhappy with a penny of funding going from the NH to the SANZR countries.

I'd rather NH funding was put into Russia, Georgia, Spain, Romania and Germany to make a viable second tier international league for Europe, not to keep the All Blacks and Australians in the style to which they've become accustomed.

The SH countries were the ones that pushed for "professionalism" so they can live with the consequences of getting what they wanted.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:06 am

Irish Londoner wrote:
Old Man wrote:Not much point in having a “democratic” voting system if the dead hold the rich countries have cannot be broken, or if it is eventually broken the rich take their toys and run.

Might as well have rugby be outright controlled by the wealthy block and stop the farce of democracy

Remember the Golden Rule:

"The people who have the gold get to make the rules"....

On a more serious note, whilst I would (with certain caveats around how it is spent) be more than happy with funding going to the emerging and developing nations in the sport, however I would be very unhappy with a penny of funding going from the NH to the SANZR countries.

I'd rather NH funding was put into Russia, Georgia, Spain, Romania and Germany to make a viable second tier international league for Europe, not to keep the All Blacks and Australians in the style to which they've become accustomed.

The SH countries were the ones that pushed for "professionalism" so they can live with the consequences of getting what they wanted.

I don’t have an issue with that, however perhaps time has come for some compensation to nation who are exporting rugby talent across the world.

They need some compensation for developing talent.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:50 am

Old Man, we are not talking about a government, we talking about a group of countries sports teams linked by an association, by your reasoning, the UN should be able to vote to take money away from the West to give to the poorer countries. It is in the 6N sides interest to have a healthy SH, rugby wise, but not at the expense of the countries that have not been able to make rugby pay stripping the 6N countries of their freedom to play the competitions they want to in order to make money for them. Democracy is a form of freedom of choice.

People will go where the money is, human nature.

Personally I would scrap all the agreements allowing people from the SANZA nations and elsewhere to come and play over here and limit the number of non-UK qualified players to 2 or 3 per club entering via a work permit. We are no longer members of the EU after all. That would allow the SH nations to retain their players and produce a broader base of UK players. Look at France, someof their teams look like the English Premier League football sides, hardly a Frenchman on show.

The only exceptions I would make being members of the armed forces from abroad, they should have an automatic right of residency and work with permits for as long as they want to stay here.

Given a broader base of talent to choose from, probably less wages being spent of extravagant salaries to overseas players, perhaps the Clubs and 6N sides could do more to play internationals or tour games in the SH and possibly send experimental sides to play the Pacific Island sides and developing nations. It would be interesting to see Exeter or Sarries playing against Samoa or Brazil.


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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:51 am

123456789. wrote:Agustin Pichot has announced he's running for World Rugby Chairman. Unfortunately the only in-depth article I could find with relative ease was in the Mail, so apologies for that. With the lull in rugby now, it seems a sensible time to discuss what Pichot's bid means and rugby's future generally.

Daily Mail wrote:Pichot's six-point plan includes:

Addressing the challenges of COVID-19 as part of a wider alignment of the global playing calendar, creating a 'compelling narrative' for men and women in XVs and Sevens. Clubs, unions and private equity firms will be consulted about an annual tournament featuring 12 to 14 Tests per nation per year.
A democratic governance structure. A long-term goal of scrapping the weighted vote system that gives more power to wealthy nations, as well as revenue sharing.
A growing grassroots and youth game, including focus on developing emerging nations such as Brazil and Tunisia.
A safe and entertaining game, featuring a dedicated World Rugby Innovation Department to look at projects such as Hawkeye technology and a flagship rugby computer game.
Mandatory athletes' commissions to put players at the heart of decision making – with discussions about reducing wages to create sustainability.
A World Rugby management 'fit for purpose' – reviewing all internal structures to 'restore trust' in the governing body.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-8211135/Argentinian-great-Agustin-Pichot-promises-revolution-challenges-World-Rugbys-job.html


Look like he's pretty set on the Nations Cup idea and breaking up the traditional rugby structures. I think one of the things people outside the Six Nations don't understand is that we don't want to change it because we actually quite like it. Equally running to scrap the voting rights of the old rugby nations doesn't work when the old rugby nations collectively hold 27 out of 50 votes. Nonetheless it is time for things to change. For rugby's commercial stability it's important to expand into new economies, it's interesting that Pichot has earmarked Brazil and Tunisia for this. Personally I am of the opinion that several nations give far more to our game than they get in return; primarily the Pacific Islanders, and that rugby will be a far more exciting sport if we can harness some of the world's bigger economies to create genuine rugby powers but that should not come at the expense of what we already love about our game. I love the Six Nations, not just because of the rugby but what it constitutes beyond rugby. As a Scotland fan I know that in a good year we could win the tournament, as a realist I know that we will never win a 12 team Nations league. Rugby needs to learn the lesson that bigger does not always constitute better.

Not really...Brasil have been getting a lot of article space in rugby columns recently, and with their population, its a no brainer.

Tunisia, well they are quite an established African side, but i think theres other African sides that will make bigger strides over the next few years.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:12 am

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:Old Man, we are not talking about a government, we talking about a group of countries sports teams linked by an association, by your reasoning, the UN should be able to vote to take money away from the West to give to the poorer countries. It is in the 6N sides interest to have a healthy SH, rugby wise, but not at the expense of the countries that have not been able to make rugby pay stripping the 6N countries of their freedom to play the competitions they want to in order to make money for them. Democracy is a form of freedom of choice.

People will go where the money is, human nature.

Personally I would scrap all the agreements allowing people from the SANZA nations and elsewhere to come and play over here and limit the number of non-UK qualified players to 2 or 3 per club entering via a work permit. We are no longer members of the EU after all. That would allow the SH nations to retain their players and produce a broader base of UK players. Look at France, someof their teams look like the English Premier League football sides, hardly a Frenchman on show.

The only exceptions I would make being members of the armed forces from abroad, they should have an automatic right of residency and work with permits for as long as they want to stay here.

Given a broader base of talent to choose from, probably less wages being spent of extravagant salaries to overseas players, perhaps the Clubs and 6N sides could do more to play internationals or tour games in the SH and possibly send experimental sides to play the Pacific Island sides and developing nations. It would be interesting to see Exeter or Sarries playing against Samoa or Brazil.


Yes, I am not talking governments either, but Unions, perhaps I should have chosen my words more carefully.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:14 am

Well hes identified the need for a review (or maybe a complete overhaul) of payments to away sides in fixtures it seems. From what I've read hes still not getting into the nitty gritty. Moving the 6 nations seems back on the table in aligning a world calendar properly. Hes also identified the prl as key players in all this and citing player test as paramount. From an england perspective it places a lot of focus on the prl and rfu relationship. Rfu may dug their heels into anything that takes too much money away but if the prl heads can be turned....interesting times.
Nothing further said by pichot on his dislike of people qualifying through grandparents or parents etc.

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Post by Irish Londoner on Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:12 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Well hes identified the need for a review (or maybe a complete overhaul) of payments to away sides in fixtures it seems. From what I've read hes still not getting into the nitty gritty. Moving the 6 nations seems back on the table in aligning a world calendar properly. Hes also identified the prl as key players in all this and citing player test as paramount. From an england perspective it places a lot of focus on the prl and rfu relationship. Rfu may dug their heels into anything that takes too much money away but if the prl heads can be turned....interesting times.
Nothing further said by pichot on his dislike of people qualifying through grandparents or parents etc.

All in favour of realigning the calendar - when are the SH teams moving?  Very Happy

It's a fine line for the PRL - if they take money away from the RFU then they lose some of that money going to them through EQP payments. I'd think they'd want to see the numbers on the proposed "world club league" before signing up, they got burnt on the "new and improved European Cup": also the PRL would have to find a way of keeping the other clubs on side, they're not going to vote in favour of a competition that makes Saracens, Exeter and Bath richer at their expense.

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Post by Brendan on Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:13 pm

While WR can bring in the nation's league they can't force unions to join it against their will.

If the 6Ns put 20m into the B6Ns they would get better return on investment than handing over 5m to each of the RC unions.

I think that with NZ and OZ you are just sticking your finger in the dam. Neither are viable in their current form and don't have much room for growth.
Russia, Spain and Georgia already have professional leagues and are growing. U20s in Europe is the most compeditive out of all the regions (as Scotland will find out if they can gain promotion back to the top teir this next u20s). Giving 5m to each of Russia, Georgia, Spain and Rominia (could also say Belgium or Germany) with a plan in place on what it is to be used for would return more in terms of teams or European cups, tv markets, sponsorship etc. Will NZ playing with home based players v their best players add anything to the 6 nation finances, not really it's still NZ.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 14, 2020 3:25 pm

I think there's a perception that somehow the traditional 5 Nations, especially England and France, have undue influence over the world of rugby and ought somehow to acquiesce to some redistribution of the power and wealth they hold. I think Pichot overestimates the power World Rugby has. The SRU, RFU, WRU, IFRFU and FFR are primarily responsible for Rugby in those nations. If Pichot comes in says they ought to hand over more of their takings, break up their tournaments and fall in line with his new world order I think it is more likely they'll just put two fingers up at World Rugby and do their own thing.
It seems to be that he has identified that Europe has the money and wants them to dance to his tune so he can share it out. It's the Europeans that are expected to alter their calendars. At the moment rugby, globally is unsustainable, radically altering the one part that is working seems counter-intuitive to me. It's destructive rather than constructive. Rather it would make sense to look at what works in Europe domestically and internationally, look to improve it where it is and replicate it abroad. The idea that European rugby should 'compensate' the other countries is ludicrous to me. It's a free market with individual people following what's best for them and their families. They are not forced to go and are paid well when they do.
Rugby needs to expand and modernise in some respects. Japan is the great success story as things stand. America and Russia may be around the corner. Indeed if they emerge at the same time they will probably push each other on faster. There's nothing one likes more than beating the other. It would be amazing if we had a World Cup where each team goes with a realistic hope of qualifying for the Quarter-finals without dead rubber games between semi-professionals and highly trained athletes. But the idea that the traditional European nations are the obstacle to rugby's land of milk and honey needs quashing as far as I am concerned. The European game funds world rugby. It funds it because people invest in it emotionally and financially. People invest in it because they like the 6 Nations and the Champions Cup etc.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 3:49 pm

123456789. wrote:I think there's a perception that somehow the traditional 5 Nations, especially England and France, have undue influence over the world of rugby and ought somehow to acquiesce to some redistribution of the power and wealth they hold. I think Pichot overestimates the power World Rugby has. The SRU, RFU, WRU, IFRFU and FFR are primarily responsible for Rugby in those nations. If Pichot comes in says they ought to hand over more of their takings, break up their tournaments and fall in line with his new world order I think it is more likely they'll just put two fingers up at World Rugby and do their own thing.
It seems to be that he has identified that Europe has the money and wants them to dance to his tune so he can share it out. It's the Europeans that are expected to alter their calendars. At the moment rugby, globally is unsustainable, radically altering the one part that is working seems counter-intuitive to me. It's destructive rather than constructive. Rather it would make sense to look at what works in Europe domestically and internationally, look to improve it where it is and replicate it abroad. The idea that European rugby should 'compensate' the other countries is ludicrous to me. It's a free market with individual people following what's best for them and their families. They are not forced to go and are paid well when they do.
Rugby needs to expand and modernise in some respects. Japan is the great success story as things stand. America and Russia may be around the corner. Indeed if they emerge at the same time they will probably push each other on faster. There's nothing one likes more than beating the other. It would be amazing if we had a World Cup where each team goes with a realistic hope of qualifying for the Quarter-finals without dead rubber games between semi-professionals and highly trained athletes. But the idea that the traditional European nations are the obstacle to rugby's land of milk and honey needs quashing as far as I am concerned. The European game funds world rugby. It funds it because people invest in it emotionally and financially. People invest in it because they like the 6 Nations and the Champions Cup etc.

Quite a mouthful there, but I will try to touch on most of them.

I am not sure how Pichot is going to redistribute the European Union’s wealth, in fact I think that isn’t possible, nothing says you must redistribute wealth.

I also doubt he will touch the Six Nations as even in the World tournament ideology the Six Nations still exist. There I think is a bit of an over reaction.

My question as far as European rugby “working” or the only thing working is perhaps facetious but also quite serious. Is it really working? Take away the Philanthropists and their billions how many clubs will sustain themselves on gate money and tv rights (ok throw in a bit of merchandise)

In a sense French and English rugby has made the professional game unsustainable as they inflated salaries to draw the international rugby stars.

As for the possibility of the Home unions throwing their toys, apart from being immature, perhaps ringfencing themselves in their own little pond may not work out that well in the long term.

You think compensation to unions developing rugby is an insane idea, so be it. The rich take from the poor, well there you some up the European mindset.

Frak ‘em, we’ll take what we want and if it suits us we will compromise to the rest of the world.

That pretty much ends any further discussion, doesn’t it.

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Tue Apr 14, 2020 4:13 pm

The title of this thread is about Rugby Future. There appears to be an assumption that if the Test team does well - by keeping elite players / allowing exposure to greater playing standards, etc. Then there will be a trickle down to professional tier and wider amateur game.This is unproven.

Take Wales and their successful Test team - the game is losing players and general interest. NZ are losing players to NRL and Australia's problems in competing with domestic leagues of other sports is well documented.

The administrators, whether WR or Unions have wasted the last 25 years with a top down structure that has now reached its finite end. Pichot's solution is to simply skim off the two country's with the largest economic power and revenue within the game to sustain an unsustainable model elsewhere.
It might happen, but it won't last.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 14, 2020 4:59 pm

Has pichot mentioned compensation? He dislikes the idea of people being tied to more than 1 country.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 5:02 pm

No, not as far as I know

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Post by Irish Londoner on Tue Apr 14, 2020 5:06 pm

Old Man wrote:
Quite a mouthful there, but I will try to touch on most of them.

I am not sure how Pichot is going to redistribute the European Union’s wealth, in fact I think that isn’t possible, nothing says you must redistribute wealth.

I also doubt he will touch the Six Nations as even in the World tournament ideology the Six Nations still exist. There I think is a bit of an over reaction.

My question as far as European rugby “working” or the only thing working is perhaps facetious but also quite serious. Is it really working? Take away the Philanthropists and their billions how many clubs will sustain themselves on gate money and tv rights (ok throw in a bit of merchandise)

In a sense French and English rugby has made the professional game unsustainable as they inflated salaries to draw the international rugby stars.

As for the possibility of the Home unions throwing their toys, apart from being immature, perhaps ringfencing themselves in their own little pond may not work out that well in the long term.

You think compensation to unions developing rugby is an insane idea, so be it. The rich take from the poor, well there you some up the European mindset.

Frak ‘em, we’ll take what we want and if it suits us we will compromise to the rest of the world.

That pretty much ends any further discussion, doesn’t it.

As posted above, I don't think that any NH/6Ns rugby fan would mind a redistribution of funding to the Tier Two nations - we'd all be for investing and developing rugby in the rest of Europe. What the NH RFUs are not going to do is sign up to giving money to sustain other Tier One sides or their club games.

Ringfencing in our little pond would work quite nicely, the 6Ns is the most profitable tournament in rugby, and the financial reality would dictate that the SH teams would still come north for the AIs.

In some ways it would probably better if the tours to the NH were less frequent rather than every year anyway - a AI series against just one T1 touring side - e.g. South Africa, plus a couple of games with the T2 sides which could help with their finances and you'd still sell out Twickenham every time. Maybe even take a game against a T2 side on the road to Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle.

The current CV19 issue and the Saracens scandal will hopefully bring a bit of reality to rugby finances in England at least - especially since the clubs have probably spent all the CVC windfall on just surviving.

The idea of the club world cup also seems complete pie the sky anyway and none of the NH teams will jump until there's serious money on the table - and presumably with the new arrangements CVC have their say as well.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 14, 2020 5:45 pm

I absolutely don't mind the idea of trying to invest more in the Pacific Islands or trying to fast-track Georgia's development. It's just that the financial argument does not add up in that case. In terms of Pacific Islanders playing for the Home Nations, the ones that play regularly are the Vunipolas, Faletau, Tuilagi, Aki and Maitland (who is a quarter Samoan I believe). Joe Cokanisiga may break into that cohort in the coming year. Of them the Vunipolas, Faletau and Joe Cokanisiga saw the vast majority of their rugby development in the nation they represented. Maitland is as Scottish as he is Samoan. Aki is of Samoan descent but chose to move his family to Ireland. It's not as if the Home Unions leech off of the Pacific Islanders. It's true a lot of Pacific Islanders play over here but they earn more here than they, in all likelihood, can at home. I do agree that there has to be some form of realignment toward the Pacific Nations from the top rugby nations. I think the British Lions should stop over there on their way to Australia and New Zealand. I think the individual nations should tour there at least once a World Cup cycle. In terms of the administration of the game, somehow, the laws need to be tightened up so that the players don't have to choose between their clubs and their nations.

What I don't agree with is that the Northern Hemisphere nations should fundamentally alter our way of doing things to suit New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. In the early years of professionalism the Southern Hemisphere teams raced ahead. SANZAAR has messed up Super Rugby and damaged the Rugby Championship on its own. The Southern Hemisphere Tier One countries need to find a way square the circle on the domestic game. My personal view would be that it would be in their interest to break into a trans-Tasman domestic league potentially with Pacific Islander involvement. With a Southern Hemisphere Champions Cup made up of the fewer teams than Super Rugby; the genuine best teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia as well as Argentinian and Japanese representation. I think there's something bizarre about this thing whereby the Tier One Southern Hemisphere teams have hit a dead end and decided to point the finger elsewhere, demanding that Europe makes changes. I would be more receptive to the complaints if the Big Three Southern Hemisphere sides had toured the Pacific Islands at all.

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:12 pm

The only test team to visit Georgia in the last decade was Scotland, South Africa sent an A team there in 2002.

No test team has visited Russia, Argentina sent an A team there around 2005/6


Only teams to visit Romania was Argentina with an A team and Italy sending an emerging Italy team.

So the NH Rich nations aren’t really doing much themselves if anything.

The fact is Europe is fortunate to have the population density, the close proximity and the collective economies, which the Sh don’t have, thus it will never be a level playing field when it comes to revenue, regardless of how you structure it.

Just one of those indisputable facts.

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Post by Brendan on Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:17 pm

While the money men have increased the spending in club rugby it is debatable if the SH could compete with the NH teams even if they were fan run.

The TV deals are sizeable because people want to watch them.  The French deal had more to do with the T14 history then the money men supplementing tv deal.
How many of the French, English and Irish could out bid the SH teams just by getting 10,000 fans to pay €/£1000 per year. That's 10m before you add in the sponsorship and TV money.

People in Europe have money and they will pay to travel on cheap flights around Europe for all different sports.  A weekend in the south of France or even Eastern Europe can be done comfortably on a weekend while still able to enjoying the party.  Hoping they will pay to travel the world every year not so much.

Even if there was a nations league Europeans would still get bigger attendances for home games while also charging more.  Italy would still have bigger attendances than NZ so make more money.  Their sponsorship would go up as Italian international companies would be able to pay more for all the extra markets they would have access to. When the nations league fails due to basic economics how would they then bring balance again to the Unions. NZ need to shed the drain that SR is and accept that they can have a well paid international or regional team but not both.

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Post by Brendan on Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:27 pm

Old Man wrote:The only test team to visit Georgia in the last decade was Scotland, South Africa sent an A team there in 2002.

No test team has visited Russia, Argentina sent an A team there around 2005/6


Only teams to visit Romania was Argentina with an A team and Italy sending an emerging Italy team.

So the NH Rich nations aren’t really doing much themselves if anything.

The fact is Europe is fortunate to have the population density, the close proximity and the collective economies, which the Sh don’t have, thus it will never be a level playing field when it comes to revenue, regardless of how you structure it.

Just one of those indisputable facts.

Ireland visited Georgia for a Presidents Cup.
Russia has two professional teams that have played in the club competitions as have a Rominian side. Georgian teams were unable to get past a semi. NH teams play at home at the same time so it doesn't really work as well (though I would like to see some European championship between WCs) .  It's why it's hard for Europe to do it.  The 6N do visit all the "SH" countries except Namibia and Uraguary so would visit USA, Canada, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Japan.  I would love to see the last time the 4N visited a non 6N team in the AIs

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Post by Old Man on Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:09 pm

South Africa has invited a number of African teams into the Vodacom and Currie Cup, we have had Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya for a number of seasons in the past, finance has halted most of it.

These nations all get invited to the schools Craven week every year

There is also an African Sevens tournament which SA is involved in.

They do a lot for African rugby.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:25 pm

I think we need to keep the flagship International events in their places: the World Cups, Lions tours, Rugby Championships and Six Nations.

South Africa evidently do their bit for rugby in Africa but you can't say the same for New Zealand or Australia. In 2018 for example New Zealand played eight tests outwith the Rugby Championship. One of those games was against Tier 2 opposition. Ultimately you could force New Zealand to accept a three test series from Georgia, but who would watch it? New Zealand need the likes of England to tour to help fund their game.

The answer is, potentially, regional Championships in Lions years. Five of 10 Tier One Nations's best players are wrapped up in three tests. Italy are Tier One in name only. In 2021 you will have New Zealand, Australia, France and Argentina outwith the Lions tours playing Tier One fixtures. Regional Championships could help fill that void. Providing an opportunity to blood new players for the Tier One sides against weaker opposition, giving younger players an experience of international knockout rugby and guaranteeing the top Tier Two sides a chance to prove themselves every two years.

The NH Championship could see Six Nations teams, the top 4 Six Nations B teams over a 24 month period, USA and Canada. It could then run on a similar format to the Junior World Cup. Four groups of three, the top teams going through to a cup, then plate, then bowl then pestle and mortar. In effect at the moment you'd have: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy, USA, Canada, Georgia, Spain, Portugal, Russia.
In the SH you could have Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan in two pools of four that feed into two sets of semi-finals. In time if Pichot's ambitions in Brazil and elsewhere come to fruition you could look to expand it.

It means for the most part the Tier One Nations can continue the fixtures that have suited them for an extended period but it also opens the window for the non-traditional test sides. World Rugby is never going to send it's flagship event to the Pacific Nations or Georgia because financially it does not make sense to do so. But it would not be the same risk to host the regional competitions in minnow nations.

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Post by Irish Londoner on Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:12 am

Old Man wrote:
The fact is Europe is fortunate to have the population density, the close proximity and the collective economies, which the Sh don’t have, thus it will never be a level playing field when it comes to revenue, regardless of how you structure it.

Just one of those indisputable facts.

Maybe the SH nations should have thought of that before leading the charge into professionalism?

As for the level playing field, name a sport where there is one - are all the SH teams funded equally ?


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Post by GeordieFalcon on Wed Apr 15, 2020 11:13 am

Id love to see a European Championship every 2 or 4 years.

6n can put in their development / Emerging teams (Saxons, Wolfhounds etc)
6n B / C / D teams could all be included on developmental basis etc.

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Post by Old Man on Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:57 pm

Irish Londoner wrote:
Old Man wrote:
The fact is Europe is fortunate to have the population density, the close proximity and the collective economies, which the Sh don’t have, thus it will never be a level playing field when it comes to revenue, regardless of how you structure it.

Just one of those indisputable facts.

Maybe the SH nations should have thought of that before leading the charge into professionalism?

As for the level playing field, name a sport where there is one - are all the SH teams funded equally ?


Weird comment, someone would have lead the charge into professionalism, what would be different if Europe lead the charge to professionalism?

No sport has a level playing field, that’s why the wealthy clubs have the big stars, as for equal funding, did you know the revenue SARU gets subsidizes ARU and NZRU?

Not sure about Argentina though as they joined later.


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Post by Brendan on Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:12 pm

In all this discussion you must separate South Africa from New Zealand and Australia.  They have lived off South Africa for a long time, but South Africa have had to keep more money.  So now that they don't have that money they have a hole to fill.

South Africa has done alot to build up the struggling nations around them including Argentina. They have helped Namibia and Zimbabwe but those nations struggle for other reasons.  South Africa has the money, players, fans and are one of only three nations which can fund a high standard 10+ team league if they wanted to.  The best solution for them from a selfish point of view would be to have a 14 team Currie Cup with the top 6 teams playing in the Champions Cup and bottom 8 in the Challange Cup.  It would allow them to have their own strong league and large crowds while still challenging themselves against outside teams.

Argentina are like Georgia (in terms of finance), just came to the sport alot sooner.  They don't have enough money to fund a high level professional team (two would be better) even though they have plenty of players.  If it wasn't for WR money they could not afford to run as they are.  If Georgia were given the same support as Argentina they would be alot better.  At u20 Georgia are quickly catching up with everyone else.  Is it fair that Argentina get the hand up but Georgia don't.

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Post by 123456789. on Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:12 pm

I honestly cannot fathom why South Africa haven't broken loose from Super Rugby in it's current format. I think the Super Rugby experiment has failed. The test of a league isn't in its first few years but in it's enduring popularity. If you think to the most successful Sports leagues in the world, what keeps them going is not necessarily just high standards but emotional connection also. I think that the constant tinkering from officials and the Geographic distance has prevented that from happening. The Pro14 is probably a couple of levels in terms of standard from Super Rugby but the geographic proximity and relative stability of the tournament means genuine rivalry has developed across nations.
It would make far more sense for me for South Africa to go its own way and allow a trans-Tasman league to develop. With the Jaguares finding a place somewhere too. Allow Super Rugby to be genuinely super, a twelve team league with pools and a quarter final. There are poor teams that make it into the Champions Cup but they only play six games. The knockout stage format allows big games between excellent sides later in the season.

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Post by Old Man on Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:39 pm

I have been advocating SARU leave Super Rugby for some time now, and move towards building our Currie Cup back to its former glory and importance in our domestic rugby landscape.

I simply don’t know why they haven’t done it

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Post by 123456789. on Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:41 pm

Would you advocate doing that as part of a tilt toward the Northern Hemisphere or keeping South Africa in its current place playing a different role?

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Post by Brendan on Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:35 pm

Old Man wrote:I have been advocating SARU leave Super Rugby for some time now, and move towards building our Currie Cup back to its former glory and importance in our domestic rugby landscape.

I simply don’t know why they haven’t done it

I think part of the reason for the SARU not jumping is understanding the need to test your teams against other nations in order to keep standards up.  The reason for the NH catching up with the SH is down to the structure of the top club competitions and how they are run.

When SR first started it was the top teams from the Currie Cup that got through to SR.  This meant that the Currie Cup teams that played SR were bringing back higher standards while the Currie Cup teams were pushing them from below wanting to get into SR.  Now SR is a closed shop were standards aren't really being pushed up from below as it has cut any links to the lower levels.  It exports players and coaches while only really bring in young players who have been trained the SR way.  With SA taking an active role in bringing players back (plus the addition of SA teams to the Pro14) you are starting to see an improvement in SA teams as it's no longer a closed shop.

Europe on the other hand went the way that nearly all sport is played in Europe which is a champions league style.  The European Cups started small as they didn't have all the best players in the teams competing.  It has however gone from strenght to strenght as teams have to continually evolve to stay at the top.  The English had the upper hand at the start which then swung to the French, Irish, as they improved.  There is an understanding that the Champions Cup is a different beast entirely from anything the league has and that in your first few seasons back in (or debute) all of your teams weaknesses are exposed and you are made to look very ordinary.  Teams would include Exeter, Sarries, Leinster who had to go through a period of learning.  These teams were great in their league but had to learn and evolve to make the step up.  Teams that fell in standards in Europe usually were a warning sign to a dip in league form such as Tigers, Munster, Wasps, Toulouse.  These teams were replaced by up and coming teams.  Not being assured of the top table mean teams needed to improve.  With the active importing of older players who at the start were cast aside by SR's top teams pushed standards within teams.  All of the Irish teams can point to imports who brought in new ideas and challenged old ways, I am sure that other teams have had simillar stories.  While imports seem to have less of an impact they still are important at both coaching and player level.

Two examples to kind of back up my point.  When English soccer clubs were kicked out of Europe for five years they were at the top of European football and I don't think people would have thought they would be so far down when they came back.  It took them years to catch back up.  This was mainly down to the insular nature of Brittish football.  I believe England missing out on USA 94 was in part because of the drop off in club standards during those few years.

The second example is the Pro 14.  When all but two of the teams qualified for the champions cup teams were less pushed from below so improvements in the top teams didn't see the other teams have much of an effect.  With the change is qualification things have changed.  Standards have improved across the league as the lower teams are pushing the top teams to improve pushing up standards.  Teams that don't progress (such as Ospreys) fall down the league.  With the addition of the SA teams the Pro14 teams have had to adjust and develop.  There was no one in the league who could play as fast on such hard ground as the Cheetahs (And to a lesser extent the kings). The first year the teams had no answer to it. Last year they upped their game and Cheetaths looked less impressive.  This year Cheetahs have evolved again and were doing better.

The most interesting thing from the SA additions to the Pro14 is to contrast the levels of phyisicallity.  The Cheetahs as a SA team have been raised on phyisicallity yet have been overpowered by the weakest teams in the weakest league in Europe.  In lines up with the improvement in the NH national teams not being steamrolled by the SH.  SR is based on the idea that the faster you run and the better your skills the more you will win.  Champions Cup Rugby is only a team strong in all aspects will win.  If you are to weak in attack or defence you are unlikely to win.  I have no doubt that the SA players have improved physically since coming North and why they have come back so strong at international level.

Whatever SA does they need to be part of a multi national competition at club level or they will regress as will anyone else who goes down the same route. Where would the Premership be if Sarries and Exeter didn't have the champions cup to improve them. While the premiership is a good league that is compeditive it is only the Champions Cup that allows it to be judged, same goes for the other two European leagues. The Currie Cup and NPC can't be judged as they are isolated from SR so results in SR have no correlation on either competition which is a pity

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Post by Old Man on Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:54 pm

123456789. wrote:Would you advocate doing that as part of a tilt toward the Northern Hemisphere or keeping South Africa in its current place playing a different role?

I would prefer SARU to focus on domestic rugby only, I don’t much care for Super Rugby nor European Club rugby as either involves too much travel for SA teams.

I would still like SA to be part of the Rugby Championship though.

However I do would understand if SARU aligned with the European Champions cup as a prgression after the Currie Cup, just don’t see how it would be practical as the SH and NH seasons clash

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:20 pm

Back to what pichot wants then in a true global season.

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Post by 123456789. on Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:48 pm

I just don't see how a global season works. From what I've seen the global season amounts to New Zealanders stating that Europeans are selfish for not wanting to change to suit them. Even Steve Hansen's parting shot about rugby becoming a global game and not simply doing what's right for a region. It's the 'you're being really selfish for not doing everything I want'. If this crisis has shown us anything it's that rugby is not as secure anywhere as we thought it was. Messing about with it to make it all fit very nicely together only works if that solution actually works commercially. That's why any restructuring has to look at maintaining what is working, in one form or another, reforming what is not and improving the lot collectively. European Rugby is on a relatively sound financial footing, there has been a degree of wage inflation but wealthy owners cover that, and as long as they cover it then it's secure. South African rugby is on sound footing. It's then about connecting the dots and working out how to make New Zealand, Australia and Argentina profitable. It doesn't make sense to me to dance to the tune of the unions that are haemorrhaging money, it makes sense for them to improve their product.

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Post by profitius on Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:25 pm

I don't think the Cheetahs or Kings are a good fit for the pro14. If their fans got behind it then it would paper over and little cracks but their fans have no interest. In that sense I think South African rugby should look inwards and build up the Currie cup again. Forget about super rugby and pro14.
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Post by TightHEAD on Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:03 am

Why is it its always the NH that has to give up its traditions, money, influence and move its season?

Maybe the SH should adapt seeing as they are the ones with a failing business.


Pichot can do one as far as I'm concerned. The 6 Nations is too special to lose.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:58 am

Good job hes not mentioned getting rid of the 6ns then.

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Post by Old Man on Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:58 am

profitius wrote:I don't think the Cheetahs or Kings are a good fit for the pro14. If their fans got behind it then it would paper over and little cracks but their fans have no interest. In that sense I think South African rugby should look inwards and build up the Currie cup again. Forget about super rugby and pro14.

If the Cheetahs and Kings continue to suck the hind teet of talent in SA they will remain mediocre

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Post by TightHEAD on Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:25 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Good job hes not mentioned getting rid of the 6ns then.

Yeh because there is room for two international tournaments a year! Laugh They walk among us Whistle
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:37 pm

Yeah youd never have 2 international tournaments in one year would you. *Checks 2019 calendar and realises tight has been on the pop.

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Post by TightHEAD on Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:15 pm

Rooting for Bill all the way.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:21 pm

Why.

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Post by le_chat on Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:44 pm

Hello chaps and chapesses, nice thread. It really got me thinking so I'll jot down a few of my ideas on the topic if that's ok.

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Post by le_chat on Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:49 pm

It seems to me that this issue gets right to the heart of how you see the world, socially and economically.

To put it (very) simply, there seems to be 2 options on the table. You either drive forward the pinnacle of the sport - the best players, the best leagues and commercial set ups - and follow the trickle down model; which is by creating an attractive 'product' out of rugby, you'll naturally enfranchise more people, businesses, and territories. Or you ensure no one gets left behind, take resources from the pinnacle of the game and redistribute them so you avoid an imbalance of power, ensuring the game not only grows in less enfranchised rugby nations, but you also avoid huge imbalances of power or resources which, if one team/country were totally dominant over everyone else, it would be a less exciting 'product' to sell to emerging territories. Two little caveats to this; the first is that, obviously, in practical terms life is about balancing these two things against each other, and that even if someone leans to one option over the other, a little bit of both is often necessary; and second is that NZ are unique in world sport in that they are miles ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to actual rugby talent. Often that translates to winning world cups but, perhaps thankfully, South Africa's resurgence and England's monetary power (Eddie Jones, analysis/conditioning) meant they didn't manage the 'threepeat'.  

Pichot seems to have gone for some sort of 'angry third way' between these two options. Or at least, Pichot's brand of particular South American nationalism is pretty hostile to the idea that the European nations have dealt with the initial shock of professionalism (regularly getting pasted by SA and NZ, only Woodward's England truly competitive until roughly the late 2000s/early 2010s) by developing the corporate infrastructure around the club and international game, and that these ill gotten gains should pay for the 'developing nations'. To me it seems pretty obvious that, reading between the lines of NZ and Pichot's public defence of the little nations, it seems more about pulling down Europe than it is building up the minnows. It has the illusion of balance, but as others have said, I think what he's offering is simply skimming off the top - or, worse, trying to take the legs from underneath the 6 Nations - to keep Argentina competitive and New Zealand dominant. I think many people would have sympathy with some of his points about residency but the manner in which he's behaved on social media over the last 5 years or so makes me highly suspicious whether he's someone who can be trusted. The idea he could find harmony between global growth and 'social justice' seems ludicrous to me.

The issue with rugby is it's a big sport in the UK, Australasia, and South Africa, but that's it. It's not a global game. It's hugely tied to colonialism and only really has roots in places where the British had a major influence, but - perhaps due to the nature of the sport - isn't as widespread as cricket, let alone soccer. So how do we grow the game, particularly in countries where there wasn't/isn't a history of proto-rugby, as there was in places like Wales and the Pacific Islands? How do you turn a country like Germany, say, who have the technical and cultural attitude to sport - as well as genetically strong population - that could make them world class when football is so entrenched there, and rugby is a minor sport with seemingly no strong desire to see it grow? Or the USA, with similar infrastructure, but the NFL issue? Or Kenya, where the genetics are there, and the emerging talent and desire, but lack of funds, resources, and governance etc.? Focusing on where *is* already, but where it can improve, has to be the focus - and Brazil and Tunisia being mentioned is definitely a start. But at what cost? Who's funding that? Brazil is a very wealthy country with huge politial and cultural problems.

The Nations league idea seems like a non starter. It seems like it would kill the rugby world cup if it was a commercial success, or (much more likely) it would simply be an annoyance than no one cares about, that prevents to best nations from playing one another. Literally no one cares about the fake trophies rugby has tried to thrust in to the sport. The James Bevan trophy? The Doddie Weir Cup? Nice ideas, but no....no one cares, they're not really 'real'. It's the problem franchised sport has: it lacks any history, longevity, emotional importance to fans etc. which has been mentioned earlier in this thread. The problem is, the Calcutta Cup and the Bledisloe are increasingly becoming meaningless as well, where once they mattered. It's the old FA/League Cup problem in English soccer: what were once a big deal now are seen as sideshows to the main event. If the Tri Nations/Rugby Championship had worked and become a Six Nations of the SH then the Bledisloe would matter even less that it does now, which is not a lot. The big prizes matter - for prestige, but also monetarily.

And that's what this whole thing is about: money. Money is the top issue around any discussion about rugby at the moment. How to get it, how to make it, how to sustain it.

Sport is commercial, whatever way you look at it. It's a form of soft power, it's a way of emotionally branding certain products, ideas, lifestyles, countries, companies...it has always had big ties to betting and the bigger a sport gets, the bigger the profits for the betting companies. There are all sorts of things attached to the sport that drive its value - but just for rugby, the main issue is how to take a sport that was amateur for so long in to the professional era. It was "amateur" in the 80s and 90s while it was commercialising but the real work has been in the last 2 decades, and now we're at a stumbling block. Because rugby can't fund itself. In the old days, the jobs for the boys connections, good family connections, and boot money covered wages and the running of the game. Sponsorship helped the unions enter the world of professionalism, ticket price increases, revenue from shirt sales etc., that all played a bit part. But, increasingly, that stuff is paying for less and less, because rugby isn't just in competition with itself - it's not SH v NH, or country v country, or club v club. It's rugby v the world. That means against all sorts of other sports, but also 'entertainment' in general. Just focusing on sport, where rugby has all the historic links, infrastructure, and funding - England - rugby is still third rate when you think about it.

Look at someone like Anthony Joshua. He could probably have taken any number of paths in the sporting world due to his athletic prowess. Could he have been a rugby player? Probably. The modern approach in rugby scouting is now athlete first, skills second. Less and less focus is on traditional heartlands - West Wales, the 'true' rugby regions of England, public schools etc - and more and more focus is going in to finding promising athletes and then funding them with scholarships to the best rugby schools. Sinckler is a great example of this. We can see some counterbalances to this, like Exeter's model of moneyball scouting which is picking up players who are undervalued elsewhere but have what they want, but by and large this is where rugby is going: trying to find young men who could choose any number of sports to play professionally, and trying to convince them that rugby is the way to go. For Joshua, as a boxer he can earn £20m+ for a world title fight. Yes, that only comes towards the peak - and end - of his career, but the earnings from following a different athletic path are often far more profitable in less popular sports than rugby, particularly when you reach the pinnacle of the sport. Joshua will be earning a lot more money than Itoje, for instance. Gareth Bale earnt more in a week than Sam Warburton did in a year. To compare another schoolmate of theirs, Geraint Thomas will likewise be earning vastly more than Warburton or other rugby players due to the corporate interest in professional cycling. So, monetarily, rugby doesn't offer players a good standard of living. Joshua has set himself and his family up for life with his success in boxing. His money grants him and his children entry into a lifestyle that vastly improves their standard of living and choices. Joshua doesn't have to work again if he didn't want to, he can live off his earnings without even investing. By contrast, the rugby players retiring today are often simply just another member of the middle classes. They've earned good money, clearly, but that earning has ended at 33, and they're now thrust back in to the job market with some transferrable skills, but there's a real mix among rugby players between those who learn something for when they retire - get a degree, diversify their wealth etc - and those who put everything in to sport. There are only so many punditry jobs, and staying in the game with coaching is a huge step up in stress with decent if not astounding pay apart from the very top jobs. This also picks at the other issue - the talent gap. For the Itojes, great, they're being funded by the RFU for £20,000 a game, and (illegally) funded by Wray's personal fortune to make sure they're earning good money. But not everyone is. Many contracts come under 100,000 a year. In the Premier League, a squad player can be on 50k a week, easily. For rugby, the 'bin juice' can earn that a year. You then factor in injury and health problems - nearly every rugby player is guaranteeing themselves major issues later in life, some potentially life altering. Rugby can end in an instant, and the renumeration for that is pitiful with the insurance side of the sport doing absolutely everything it can to avoid paying players who retire on injury grounds. Not only that, but rugby - as a team sport - is less of a banker than an individual sport, like fighting, or athletics. You're reliant on coaches and cultures and getting a fair shot: there are many reasons why people from minority backgrounds choose individual sports because they feel, with no doubt some righteousness, they won't get a fair crack within a team sport culture, from youth grades and up (I highly doubt this is an issue in the pro game). I'd imagine that's swiftly declining as this country in particular changes, but rugby definitely has a class issue which Genge touched upon. Is that a global problem? Probably in some places, like parts of France, South America (the irony) etc.

I haven't even touched on the USA - which, to me, seems like *the* major market to break, more than any other. Soccer grew to a peak in America that established it as a major sport in 2014 from which it will now never decline back to the joke that it once was. It happened on a few major fronts. One was establishing the MLS and doing it *properly* - not having hockey-style penalties at the end of drawn games, getting a core of proper soccer fans. Next came buying in super stars - David Beckham most significantly. American sport relies on individuals and 'star power' more than anywhere else. They don't care about history so much, or even teams - unless they're totally dominant, like the ABs, or Man Utd, and the shirt can become its own marketing tool. They care about the star player, the MVP. But also a massive part of that was Fifa, the computer game, and that's one area that Pichot highlights which I think is inarguable. Fifa put soccer in the hearts and minds of young boys in a way nothing else could - it put them front and centre. Soccer wasn't happening 'over there', at unsociable kick off times. It was right there, in the palm of your hand. It taught people more than they would have just by watching, and that in turn has become a way to sell the game - domestically and internationally - in to the largest market in the Anglosphere. Rugby has to break America, but unlike soccer - which the the big baseball, basketball, hockey, and gridiron have long tried to keep sidelined for their own sake - rugby isn't globally loved. The USA was an anomaly in that all around it - from Mexico/Latin America, Europe, much of Asia - soccer was *the* sport. Soccer is obviously huge among immigrants who move to the US from south of the border. None of these things are 'there' for rugby in America. But it cannot overlook the USA, starting to put the seeds down with Major League Rugby, getting Argentinian and Uruguayan involvement, ensuring Canada don't become an afterthought, tapping in to the Polynesian culture of rugby and 'selling' it as a sexy, Samoan-Hawaiian-Californian 'thing' for the West Coast at least. It's the first step that soccer took in America in creating the MLS - that's where we are with rugby. Once that is established, then the other 2 facets - a computer game (and with that extension, viral interest online with clip shows/highlight reels catering to an emerging audience), star players, and then national success at a World Cup can really establish it in the USA. The issue is soccer has a niche in America where rugby - so similar to gridiron - does not. The NFL will 100% do everything it can to kill rugby in the US, and if rugby is savvy, it can win that war by advertising a less dangerous (CTE is rife in the NFL) version of the sport, particularly if rugby goes where I think it is going tactically/stylistically.

So you have all these issues facing rugby - how to make rugby, the game, attractive to the stars of tomorrow. But where does that money come from?

Quite clearly, we haven't found the answer to that. The way to keep Itoje and Farrell 'happy' monetarily by not taking a massive offer from France (who have suffered internationally due to their spending habits) is to break the salary cap - the salary cap is in itself a middle ground between the two options I mentioned, growing the game v keeping it 'fair'. That money comes from one dedicated individual billionaire who now appears to feel like the system has beaten him having poured his money, time, and effort in to making Saracens (and England, and arguably English rugby) successful. If he goes...who's bridging that funding gap? Saracens cannot fund themselves. Almost no club does. Exeter is kept in profit by some clever investments by Tony Rowe, but in reality, it's still Rowe's businesses keeping Exeter in the black. In Wales, the club game has been decimated and left behind as the regions had to grow to keep Wales competitive. There's now huge gulfs between the clubs and the regions, and the regions and the national team - the latter of which was kept competitive largely through a world class SH coach who has now left. So all of this is messy, interconnected, and with literally no easy, quick fix answer. The idea that Pichot has that answer - take money from the 'rich' Europeans, spread it around to everyone else, like some self-ordained Robin Hood - is exactly the kind of facile solution that makes me think he's far more dangerous than anything else. Is he really likely to grow the game, or is he just going to destroy the tenuous fabric that keeps rugby together in the actual heartlands of the sport? Rugby's main issue in Australia, for instance, is League's popularity.

But this is where rugby is. And that's why it's at a terrible crossroads: it's desperate to grow just to survive economically, but it's so desperate it's willing to hand over the keys to private equity which, to me, seems like an insanely short term decision that will strangle the sport somewhere down the line for the sake of profits. The CVC investment across Britain and Ireland seems guaranteed now and we'll just have to wait to see what happens there, but their loyality is to nothing more than the bottom line.

For me, rugby's sole chance of becoming a sport that will become *the* code - over League and gridiron - is because of the beauty the sport offers along with the complexity. It's a middle ground between the slow smash of NFL, and more complex than the highly atheltic and adaptive League. Mauls and scrums are fun - people do want to watch them when they 'work', which means no constant resetting. The tackle rule in League kills it as a spectacle - spectator sport is all about pressure and spectacle - just as the stoppages in NFL do the same. Rugby has taken huge parts from both sports: the defence and attack in Union has been highly influenced by League in the last decade. Eddie Jones's England, particularly with regard to their kicking, reminds me of the NFL, with Johnny May the wide receiver to Farrell's quarterback. We have a sport that is, in my opinion, the best of the 3 when you get down to the fundamentals of it. It's just the weakest in the commercial sense because it was amateur for so long - League's mistake was not taking advantage in the 60s, 70s, 80s and particularly 90s when commercial sport boomed by growing the game in to new territories, and now I cannot see League ever beating Union on a global scale. Technically, rugby will *have* to get rid of the dark arts. It will *have* to get rid of fat, old school props waddling around the field in internationals. It needs to take lessons from soccer in this country - how we've gone from two touch, two footed tackles, long ball football, in to hosting a league where two of the best teams play: Liverpool and Man City, coached by the two best managers in the world. The technical understanding of space, basic skills, tactical shape and all the rest of it will take precedence - no more of the AB's reliance on taking people out off the ball, officiating has to improve on that front. There will always, always, always be a necessity to 'front up' to the physical challenge, which means you can bully your opponents physically, which Liverpool clearly do in soccer. Fitness, legal aggression are just the basics though - skills, understanding, the beatiful side of sport - that is where rugby has to go. Fewer players piling in to a 'dead' ruck, less wasted energy, effort and all the rest of it. The amateur character will be drained out, basically, from the pro game for the sake of something much more spectacular. I feel we've seen the start of that with Joe Schmidt - his protection of the ball and the micro-coaching around the contact area is definitely a start. But it was searingly dull at times. He could be seen as almost like a Jose Mourinho type of coach in terms of tactics. Gatland as well. The Fijians have the basic skills to rule to world game, and NZ are obviously the best in the world, but if/when we get a team that reinvents rugby to the extent Barcelona did to soccer with Guardiola, then that's when I think we'll see the game go global. Something that is technical, dominant, but also beautiful. Less about contact, more about space, balance, angles, support lines etc. Whoever can take the Sevens ethos and successfully convert it in to 15s - to my mind no one has managed this yet, because the set piece is still a key part of rugby - then they'll be the one to make it more commercially viable as a spectator sport again, because collapsed scrums and mauls are 100% only for the purists.

But this all comes back to money - and Pichot's candidacy rests on how you think sport, and the world, should be run.

One thing I think is getting focused on is the idea of national 'retribution'. The idea that SA and NZ unions need to be reimbursed for the coaching and player drain (as well as the Pacific Islanders, but it's clear where the motivation is from those 2 countries when this debate comes up). But where's that money coming from? Clubs, typically, who are in turn funded by private capital - often wealthy individuals with a deep love of the game, or also men, as was the case with a club in France. Clubs pay the individuals wages: the SH players/coaches move up north because they can earn vastly more money than they otherwise would. Their services are more valuable monetarily in the NH than the SH, it's really very simple. That *is* the way things are - it may be frustrating, but that's the reality. Unions pay project and/or 'residency' players in appearance fees. The NH is paying these people, it's not 'getting' them for free, even if the host country feels cheated by it - the fact it's not filtering back down to the SH unions is obviously a worry for them, but it's simple supply and demand. I can see the worry for NZ in particular, that SA, Oz, and NZ might end up like Argentina and Brazil in soccer, creating the most talented players in the world, but with a monetarily poor league (with far fewer fans than those soccer clubs get), where the best players leave to go to Europe to prove themselves early on, having developed their basic skills in the SH, before going to earn 5-10x what they could back home by playing for a European club. But that seems like almost an inevitable step - a natural part of globalisation. The best leagues - and the best markets - are in the UK and France for the very obvious reason that that is where the greatest wealth and interest is. The SH unions can fight that to the death, or they could adapt. NZ seem to see Japan as their last hope to maintaining the 'play at home only' rule for ABs, but I think that might be out of the frying pan, in to the fire. Japan could easily become the second biggest league, surpassing (killing) Super Rugby/NZ in a decade or so, and NZ could be creating a monster by trying to appease them to prevent a European hegemony.

Money is the reason Fiji and Samoa aren't tourist destinations in a rugby sense for the All Blacks. You could also point to the fact that the PI'ers are filled with NZ born and bred players - they feel they're doing more than enough already, you sense, on that front, and their own regional/cultural norms mean you can't just apply European thinking to this. We tend to think of national borders and identities as more fixed, yet the push towards the 'post ABs' capping for Islanders shows we can't just transplant European thinking on this issue. NZ know they have time on their side, and the cultural links between NZ and the Islanders means they know they can 'win' the argument on residency players. An Irish Bundee Aki isn't what the SH wants to see and I think the more they can push the 'Polynesia' angle as Tonga/Samoa and even Fiji pick NZ-born players, the more their argument about dual capping grows. So we probably should nip that in the bud by toughening the residency laws once again, because if we're talking about funding the host country - and not just individuals - then there is no way that NZ plundering the Islands and then handing them their offcuts once they're over the hill is good for rugby. Can you imagine a Fijian team made up of former ABs playing NZ in a world cup semi final? It would make a mockery of the sport and would be a huge step back towards shamateurism.

This is more than long enough and I definitely see more problems than solutions but I don't think Pichot offers anything other than hostility to the idea that the growth of the game in Europe needs to be stopped. It seems strange that an emerging nation - Japan - haven't come under the same criticism despite their coaches and a large portion of their playing squad being taken from overseas. Pichot seems more like a loudmouth who says what he can get away with, rather than someone with clear, concise, and coherent solutions to the problem which is rugby's growth and fairness.

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Post by TightHEAD on Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:07 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Why.

Why not.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:22 pm

So no reason at all. Not like you to throw silly comments out tight without any thought.

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Post by 123456789. on Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:32 pm

Currently the top 8 teams in the world according to the rankings are South Africa, New Zealand, England, Ireland, France, Wales, Australia and Scotland. The same top 8 we've had for most the last century. Of those top 8 the combined population is 226 million people of which the European Five Nations make up 139 million people. In short 66% of Rugby's traditional target population exist within three European countries, all situated in the same part of the world. You can fly between the most northerly point of that Rugby block to the most southerly in less than four hours, all three of those countries could fit comfortably within Australia three of four times over. More importantly 75% of Rugby's traditional powerhouses' GDP is within the UK, Ireland and France. Within that it's overwhelmingly concentrated in England and France. These are facts that are beyond the influence of Agustin Pichot or World Rugby to impact in their wildest dreams. Pichot seems to think he can achieve the ambition of sharing the sport's wealth more evenly. He forgets that the wealth he speaks of comes from people choosing to give their money to the game. Whether that's wealthy club owners or ordinary people scrimping and saving to get to matches. If you fundamentally change what it is that they give their money to then people will not necessarily hand their money over. Pichot's ambition is to put the Nations League back on the table, the Rugby public is Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and France are overwhelmingly against that. The Unions are not being selfish in obfuscating, they are catering to their customers. Pichot should focus on creating avenues for development that are actively in the interest of those traditional powers.

A Nations league with promotion and relegation is not in the interest of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy or even Argentina or Australia if the aim is to develop the financial powerhouses of the global economy into flourishing rugby nations. Because ultimately their rise will come at the expense of the smaller rugby economies. A Nations league of 12 countries effectively ringfences rugby's top table, and sinks the Six Nations, Rugby Championship and the World Cup with it. However bringing the USA, Germany, Japan, Brazil and Russia to the top table as competitive additions to the world game is in everyone's interest. It would mean new places to tour, new places to sell TV rights, probably new ways of playing the game. Eight nations have dominated rugby for almost its entire history, seven of those countries belonged to the same polity for much of the first half of rugby's formal existence. We've seen Japan explore a new way of playing the game. Brazil would do the same, Germany too. America could bring it's American football culture into the game and develop a new way not just of playing the game but delivering the product. If that can be fostered as an addition to the things we love about rugby rather than rushed in as a sort of inorganic, destructive monstrosity fuelled by Pichot's personal grievances.

The traditional 8 have a combined GDP of around $7,500,000m. The USA has a GDP of just under three times that. Japan is not far off equalling it on its own. If that money is brought to the table naturally it can help bring the game to the next level, not just where it's developing but where it is already deep rooted. You can find a new ways of developing rugby's existing systems to help reap the benefits of these advances. If Japan advance at their current rate in their current style you could see the clash of styles between the nimble Japanese and the raw power of the South Africans. Brazil and Argentina's rivalry would develop a whole new frontier for rugby. The Lions could play a three test tour of the USA in some of sport's worldwide cathedrals. These possibilities are exciting for rugby and it's good for the game that Pichot is ambitious. I just don't see that Pichot is fuelled by vision but rather than a misplaced grievance at the basic facts of World Rugby and the Global economy. It would be possible for these advances to come alongside rugby's traditions. In fact, when it comes to it, the same teams play each other every year, some as often as four times. The World Cup is simply a way of getting them to play each other in the same country, in a different format, so one can be crowned the best in the world until someone beats them a few months later. If Rugby becomes a broader game with different strongholds then the World Cup could truly be a festival of different styles, continents and powerhouses old and new.



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Post by Brendan on Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:11 am

The facts seem to be quiet simple (maybe to simple)
New Zealand can't self support a national team and 5 top professional teams.
Australia does not have the players to compete
Europe has half of the nations at international level in the top 10, 20 and 30 (And probably 40)
Europe is the most cost effective place to use WR money as travel is far less expensive so tournament costs are alot lower.

Europe which has a structure in place that is unrivalled to anything else in the world.  There are 5 levels of international rugby in Europe each one highly compeditive and there is alot of movements between levels.  There is a break between the 6Ns and B6N but Georgia have never beaten any of the 6N team while they have beaten all other T2 teams (except maybe Japan). At u20 7 of the top 12 are European with the European u20s highly compeditive under the 6Ns + Georgia.  The final of the u20 T2 is likely to be Scotland v the European champions.

Even if you combine the rest of the world in one area to be a counter weight to Europe it's not going to work as soccer has shown.  Players from around the world come to Europe to play meaning the standard of those nations goes up with it which is why Europe gets alot of teams to the WC knockouts while at the same time teams like Italy and the Netherlands couldn't qualify.

Well a radical one would be to give all other nations access to the European leagues and develop the fan base in Europe which then generates money for the SH unions..  So you stick a PI based team in the Canarys as an example.  They would feel at home, plenty of Rugby people go there and if you want a party team they would be it.  PI unions supply the players, WR help with the funding and Spain grows it's fan base while the PIs can manage their players.
You could use SA in the Netherlands/Germany as Africana language is very simillar as are their genetics. If Germany did play rugby they would be a european version of the Boks. Squads would be 66% SH and 33% local.  Those local players would have good environments to develop and make the grade while the teams would still be strong enough. Locals generally want to see winning teams so would enjoy seeing teams win.

You would then be able to have 5-6 compeditive leagues in Europe which would generate massive money for everyone through the European cups.

The non European nations could still have their own domestic leagues while also growing the strenght of the non 6N countries thus providing more internationals which is what the SH want.  Pie gets bigger for everyone. If there were 6 more strong European teams at international level that's double the amount of Summer and AI tests for the SH to boost their coffers with.  Doubling the games would also increase the sponsership deals aswell.  It would also lead to better TV deals for WCs to fund growing nations. The 6Ns would still be able to carry on as they are

French League
English League
Pro12 (add 2 NZ teams one in North Wales and one in North Scotland)
Southern League (Add the 2 current Italian teams plus one based in Southern Italy)
Northern League
Eastern League

It's not ideal but it would be as likely to work as well or better than WR's rubbish of only looking after the top 10 teams

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