BBC BLOGS - John Beattie
« Previous | Main | Next »

Let's spread the rugby word for 2023

Post categories:

John Beattie | 09:41 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

There hasn't been much about it in the media but I think I am right in saying that Fifa are about to announce the country lucky enough to host the next football World Cup.

That particular land will be informed after a doubt-free voting process, and although England might think they are in with a chance I've looked at the Russian bid and I like it, and I like Qatar's later one too.

Thank you Boris for my very own pipeline via the Persian Gulf. No, not the Boris who has thrown his toys out the pram in London.

When it comes to our sport, rugby, the next three World Cup venues have been decided but, after that, I'd like to see a Vladimir-like surprise.

Next autumn's World Cup will be in New Zealand, England (whaaat?) are hosts in 2015 in what must have been part of secret a plan for world domination, and Japan are next up in 2019.

Going by the long line of Beattie early deaths I shouldn't be too concerned about who gets in next, but I am.

And it mustn't be someone who has had it before.

Japan will host the rugby World Cup in 2019

Japan will host the rugby World Cup in 2019

We are so complacent in the west, or perhaps more narrowly Europe - a mistake I am sure the English football bid will not make - in thinking that somehow we must, by definition, be better than other countries because we have a "track record".

If we all stuck to "track records" we'd go to Girvan beach every summer for our holidays.

No, the important thing for rugby is to get around the world. Not to sell the game and force it down the throats of unsuspecting locals like misguided evangelists, but to have it staged in countries that make the game better.

There are a few countries that give the game so much more than they get from it.

For instance, the Kenyan sevens team makes the game better. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga quite possibly give the game more in terms of talent than anywhere else in the world and they must be recognised by our game.

We can't have men of Fijian, Samoan and Tongan descent providing key men in almost every rugby team in the world and not give them something back in return.

You can't just go somewhere, take something from a country, and not give back. Unless, your honour, I am misunderstanding British colonial rule over the centuries.

By 2023, I hope, the USA might be a viable venue. Who is to say that China will not rise up and be a rugby nation.

And what about Russia?

Well, why not? They might, just might, have had a bit of experience after hosting the other code of football World Cup if my hunch is right.

Whatever happens, please let's not hold it in the UK, New Zealand, Australia or France.

I'm sure the football vote is due sometime soon...


  • Comment number 1.

    John, I know this was just posted, but you must know that Qatar and Russia got the tournament?

  • Comment number 2.

    of course he does, he linked Boris removing free hotels for FIFA members. he is playing the cynical scotsman

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog Mr Beattie.

    If people wan the rugby world to grow, the best way to do it is to take the world cup to places where that wouldn't normally feature.

    Can't picture a Kenyan world cup though...

  • Comment number 4.

    Unfortunately as these events come around every 4 years, the IRB, FIFA, UEFA or Olympic commitee have to make as much cash as they can

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the 2023 RWC is likely to return to Europe having been in Asia 4 years before. Therefore, I'd hope for Italy to host it.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with the sentiment of wanting to expand the game outside of its current limits but we need to face the fact that rugby has some way to go before being seen as a a global brand. The fact that only about 10-12 countries are competitive (and we could probably bring that down to 5 when considering who could win a world cup). A poorly supported tournament with the same limited group of competitive nations may do more harm than good. More groundwork is needed in the next decade before we take such a move.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hear Hear Johnny. As Scotland have a recent good record in Argentina I would also like to throw their hat into the ring.

    As we are on the subject of mischief, check out
    I wonder if Boris will ban all weathermen from London & call for indoor cricket!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi John,

    The IRB needs to do more to transform rugby into a global sport. If members of the 6 Nations and Tri Nations vote purely through self interest, then the sport will continue to mirror the limited competitive environment of test cricket.

    Realistically, choosing the venues for future world cups should strike a balance between commercial returns and taking the game's biggest event to new frontiers.

    How about the following:

    2011 - NZ
    2015 - England
    2019 - Japan
    2023 - South Africa
    2027 - Italy
    2031 - Australia
    2035 - Scotland, Wales, Ireland
    2039 - Argentina
    2043 - France
    2047 - Fiji, Samoa, Tonga
    2051 - England
    2055 - USA, Canada

    Who knows - maybe Russia, Georgia, Portugal are also potential future venues.

    How is your son's rehabilitation going? I hope he's back for the 6 Nations.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hey John.

    When i first found out that New Zealand and England would be hosting the next world cups i was furious. This is a massive step back in the IRB's so called quest to globalise the game. If they want to globalise the game more then we should, as you said, be looking to developing rugby countries with lots of potential, such as USA, Italy and optimistically China.

    However Japan is a great choice for 2019 and i wait with great anticipation to see what they can produce.

  • Comment number 10.

    donjohnf - Eh? I haven't seen anything in any of the papers about England not getting the football world cup and how all the people must have been bribed and how unfair it is that england didn't win and how nobody must enter a world cup bidding process ever again until "England bids can win it". It must have passed me by.

    El - Gordo - great idea, move it around the world. My son's rehab is going well, think he is due to play early in the New Year thanks.

    endrickoldie - Argentina, or South America, sounds good. As the Commonwealth games proved the stadia need to be filled too.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi John, I totally agree with you about spreading the Gospel of rugby around the world. One of the greatest moments of the last World Cup was Portugal scoring a try against the All Blacks, or possibly it was those Georgian forwards scaring the life out of Ireland. I believe that the IRB needs to help these developing nations far more. Why don't we have a 2nd tier 6 Nations, (Portugal, Georgia, Russia, Spain, Romania and Germany). Winner of that competition can play a play off agaisnt bottom side of the 6 Nations, at the smaller countries home venue. Tri Nations should include a Pacific Island XV as well as Argentina. World Cup should also go to either USA or possibly Canada. Maybe an African Cup involving sides like Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe and an Emerging Boks side. We have a wonderful game, lets grow it into more markets and expose it to more people!

  • Comment number 12.

    Difficult to balance spreding the game v filling the coffers in order to fund the spread of the game. Agree that the RWC should head outside the of the 6 Nations / Tri (soon to be 4) nations but maybe after the top-table new boys Italy and Argentina have had a crack.
    After this surely the USA or Canada would be a good shout. Both have the stadia and the infastructure as well as a developing player/fan base.

  • Comment number 13.

    In terms of globalization for the sport: to make a soccer-esq. international phenomena then large scale investments have to take place. The typical African poverty stricken village finds its emotional and social respite in rolling up a newspaper into a ball and kicking it between two metal poles. However the grass roots of rugby seen as the stereotype public school, and not even the failed mathematician can evaluate that there are more of the former than the latter. Hence the need and urge to thrust the the game into the darkness and show the world's ultimate showcase of the sport in areas that are the comparable unknown

  • Comment number 14.

    Talking of globalisation of rugby, I recently watched a couple of reports on Sky's rugby magazine show, not the one with Barnes and Morris, where, in one case, a sporting and political miracle occurred, in Palestine playing Israel at rugby in a central European country, while in Egypt, a four-nations tournament took place involving the host nation, Libya, Mauretania and Algeria. It was so refreshing to hear the players and coaches trying to spread the rugby ethos throughout those countries and taking every effort to keep to the spirit of the game, all the more so in the case of Palestine v Israel. Hopefully from acorns, etc.....Africa and the Middle East could be there sooner than we think.

  • Comment number 15.

    Rugby could start with actually making it available on TV in other nations. I'm sick of living in the US with a "CYMRU" licence plate and having no reasonable access to games (now Setanta has died). I have to resort to nefarious and poor quality web feeds so I can hijack even a glimpse of my national sport.

    The BBC should get off their back sides and offer some kind of pay-per-view for people outside the UK.

  • Comment number 16.

    Wholeheartedly agree John, a good analysis. Rugby should be looking to break out of the cozy club attitude and try and spread the game across the world.
    I agree with the comment of a pyramid structure for the 6N with play offs betwixt top and bottom of the respective leagues. How else are we going to get more countries to improve?

    Why aren't teams touring Argentina doing a warm-up game in uruguay for example. They've only appeared in the WC twice for goodness sake.

    And what about Georgia (3 times) or Romania (every WC), don't they deserve some chance to improve?

    Sadly, those who cast their votes live in the 'cozy 'laissez faire' world of the past. How long has it taken Argentina to get recognised in an annual tournament. The Tri-N apparently, then what about the Pacific Islanders.

    It really annoys me, you are so right, but the 2023 World Cup will go to the Celtic Nations, as it will be 'their turn' - whereas it should go to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. (Now that would be worth saving up to see)

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd love to see Italian and US Rugby world cups. They'd both be financially viable, are good 'holidaying' venues to bring in the crowds and would open up the game. I don't think you'd get the crowds to Argentina and the Pacific islanders do not have the stadia or infratructure to support it. IMO, a run of decent results for Italy could see the game take off and that's something that the RFU should be wanting more than anything.

    IMO, Japan have been badly treated by the RFU. They should've had the next World Cup. I just hope this delay has not seem them fall down the pecking order too far in the professional era to be nothing more than a side show event in 9 years.
    For me, the future of the game is in making the 2nd level of rugby more competitive, which means financial support and more tours to Pacific Islands, a lot more Euro support for Italian Club rugby, club tours and assitance to Canada and the U.S (along with more consistant support of the Churchill Cup by the big teams).
    Most rugby fans know the big 8 teams grounds inside out. There's nothing special or unique about another World Cup in England or New Zealand or France.

  • Comment number 18.

    In an ideal world the idea of promotion/relegation between the 6N and the second tier European competition (see post 11) would be so obvious that it would have happened some years ago. The reason why it probably isn't going to happen any time soon is simple. It would be OK if you could be totally confident that the first 6N side to face the risk of going down and then possibly yo-yoing between first and second divisions for years thereafter was certain to be Italy. But suppose (just for the sake of argument and given that this is a blog with a Scottish flavour) Scotland had a stinker the year the new system was brought in and ended up losing narrowly in Tblisi. What happens with the TV money/coverage? I can't imagine the BBC spending huge amounts for the right to cover Scotland- Portugal in Lisbon- or indeed falling over themselves to give blanket coverage the new 6N, a tournament which would now only have two and a bit "home" sides in it; would they really send a full team of commentators and experts to Georgia-Italy? From a Scottish perspective you'd be lucky to quarter fill Murrayfield when Romania came calling and it's conceivable that relegation would set off a downward spiral which put paid to Scotland as a serious rugby playing country in a decade.

    That's maybe an over-dramatic way of putting things but I think it's a credible worst case scenario which would be on the minds of those who would have to vote for a 6N with the possibility of relegation.

    In the end it all comes back to the initial conundrum; the limited number of countries which are genuinely competitive at the highest level adversely impacts on interest in rugby but without more interest more widely spread it's hard to see how the number of genuinely competitive countries is going to increase. I suspect the professional age has been a mixed blessing; having players active in the top professional leagues has done a lot for the Pacific Islands sides or Argentina but it's also created problems of player release and tilted the playing field even more in favour of the existing "big boys" by makig it even harder for a country outside the elite to muster the resources to provide the requisite back up.

    I'm not sure there's an easy way out of this. I'd certainly make touring sides go off the beaten track a little more. Why can't NH sides going south drop into Apia or Suva- or indeed Windhoek or Montevideo- on the way? And why not ensure that the Autumn Internationals embrace countries like Georgia and Russia- I suspect Georgia would have loved a crack at the Wallabies front row......

  • Comment number 19.

    #11 a ‘Six Nations B’ already exists – it’s called the European Nations Cup (is divided into about 9 divisions, the top of which is currently: Romania *defending champions*, Georgia, Russia, Spain, Portugal and Ukraine – who replace relegated Germany for this coming season)

    The only question is why is there no relegation/promotion between these 9 leagues and the 6 Nations. But there is still a huge gap between the bottom of the 6 Nations and the ENC. I was at Firhill a couple of years ago to watch a (albeit under-strength) Georgia team take on Scotland ‘A’. Final score was something like 69-3 to Scotland – and this was a second string Scotland. They have made major strides, but there is still a long way to go before Georgia can add anything to the 6 Nations. Maybe about time we brought in a play-off game, at the 6 Nations team’s venue? If a team can’t beat Italy in Rome, then there is no point sending them to Twickenham or the Stade de France.

    The IRB are doing a good job right now IMO – although the decision to send RWC 2011 to NZ rather than Japan was an awful one. Since then, the Junior World Championships (U-20 level) has been staged in Japan and Argentina, and is going to Italy next season, while the next tier down (the World Rugby Trophy) has been held in Chile, Kenya, Russia and next year in Georgia. The Nations Cup in Romania every year is also proving a success – Scotland ‘A’ and Argentina ‘A’ finished in the bottom two last season, having been beaten by the likes of Namibia and Georgia.

    ERC on the other hand have a lot to answer for. Russia has a fully-professional league of 8 teams (looking to increase to 16 in the coming years), and are keen to enter the European Challenge Cup. Yet they aren’t allowed in, while some groups have 2 english and 2 french clubs. The Challenge Cup should be looking to involve as many countries as possible from around Europe – esp. Now that the eventual winner is unlikely to come from the ECC pools anyway.

    #18 – I would actually quite like to see Scotland playing in Tblisi or Moscow. Over 60,000 people turned up to watch a Georgia v Russia game in Tblisi a few years ago (for the record 1 ½ million people watched that one on telly in Georgia!). I would love to see Scotland playing out there in front of a similar crowd.

    Would like to see the next RWC’s going to Italy (same time zone as all the European heavyweights, and easy to get to = almost guaranteed financial success. They have the grounds as well, and the locals have the interest to support it – especially in the north) and then Argentina (IRB would most likely want a SH one after 2 up North and one on the equater)

    Both are countries where football is important – a RWC might be just what is required in order to challenge football’s dominance (and in Italy’s case, may be the boot in the proverbial needed to get the team winning some games)

    And a RWC in the PI’s? Seriously? That would be a disaster!!! (NZ isn’t big enough to host the RWC – so what makes anyone think that the PI’s are?) There is spreading the game and just being daft.

    One last thing: while I have been typing this, Stuart Barnes has appeared on Sky Sports News to discuss all things rugby. One point discussed was Wasps proposal to play an LV= Cup fixture in Abu Dhabi – Barnes response: “rugby shouldn’t be played in the desert” :O

    Think you are all smart enough to figure out what is wrong with that statement...

  • Comment number 20.

    Realistically, Fiji / Tonga / Samoa could not host a world cup. They have 5 stadiums between them, with a total capacity of 85,000 (the largest is 30,000) and they don't have the cash to build more or exapnd the existing ones.

    Italy should be a target for the IRB - given that they sold out the San Siro for the game against the ABs, there's huge potential there, and they already have the stadia in place. Similarly with Argentina, the USA, Canada and maybe even the likes of Spain or Germany.

    How about a Basque / Catalan world cup? Plenty of stadiums in Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Vitoria, etc.

    But Italy and Argentina must be the next two in my opinion.

  • Comment number 21.

    strange that we are not treating taking it to japan like a risky move.

  • Comment number 22.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 23.

    What do you mean dans rugby??

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi John,
    Enjoy the blogs, good stuff! One question - what has happened with Simon Taylor? Exceptional player, playing in a good team, but I havent heard his name mentioned around the international squad for a while. Has he officially retired from internationals? If not, why is he not in the squad?

  • Comment number 25.

    However the grass roots of rugby seen as the stereotype public school, and not even the failed mathematician can evaluate that there are more of the former than the latter.
    So What?

    The game fairs extremely well in the Pacific and Wales where it has always been the domain of the working class.

    Japan is taking it to new frontiers. 2019 is the riht timescale for this, giving the 2015 cup to any non-big nation would be too soon for them to do that job properly.

    Frankly in 2023 it should be South Africa with the support of possibly a group being held in Kenya, maybe even one in Namibia.

    Then in 2027 a return to Europe with Italy as main hosts and a couple of games farmed out to Holland, Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe sounds good.

    2031 would be the first chance I can see for another real risk in taking the game to North America with a joint USA/Canada bid.

  • Comment number 26.

    Lets be a bit realistic here, whilst rugby isn't massive in Japan they do have alot of registered players out there; some 53,000 adult males of are registered to play, compare this to Wales at 22,000, 27,000 in New Zealand, 40,000 Aussies, 11,000 Scots, 110,000 Saffers, 110,000 in Frnace, 166,000 in England. China on the other hand has 3,900 and Russia 3,600 and Canada 9,000 with this few players and vastness of each of these contries I find it difficult to see how a world cup in any of these contries would be noticable to the general population. The USA at 35,000 on the other hand could be viable, whilst the football world cup wasn't exaclty embrassed by the locals at the time it dose apear to be the catalyst for growth in the game over there.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.