John Beattie

Beginning of the end for Six Nations? (155)

Do you know, I think that this World Cup is hastening the end of the Six Nations.

The premier northern hemisphere competition is being exposed for what many have suspected it to be for a while – protectionist.

The sooner we let Portugal, Georgia, and Argentina into regular elite competition on an annual basis, the better.

I have delayed writing my first blog for one reason: it’s because I have been struggling to believe my eyes as rugby’s world order, at least in the middle tier, is left in a pile of rubble.

In their opener against Scotland in St Etienne, the Portuguese played with an “amateurish” passion that was truly delightful to watch.

They hurtled into rucks, they flew into tackles, they didn’t “come up in a line” in defence and they didn’t “bridge ruck” in the latest fashion.

Nope, they went at it as if it was their passion, their love, their big day on TV, which of course it was.

I watched Georgia come very close to what looked like a subdued Irish side. Tonga rolled Samoa. Namibia aren’t as bad as we thought they would be.

Their trouble is that they can only be as good as the rugby they play regularly. But when it comes to Argentina, Georgia and Portugal, they could all slip easily into the Six Nations and expand it.

For us as rugby people to ignore these countries and look after ourselves borders on the criminal. We keep our money, we keep our skill set, and we keep our competition to ourselves and pretend that somehow we are special, but above all we stop other countries progressing.

I love this World Cup, because more than any World Cup before, it is changing the world order, and that will force us to wake up.

John Beattie is a former Scotland international who hosts radio and TV programmes for BBC Scotland.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:31 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Powell wrote:

Couldn't agree more - a two or even three division European (including Argentina) with promotion and relegation would begin the widening of the sport. If it was three divisions it could include counties like Russia, Romania, etc, who at present get so little chace to compete and improve.

  • 2.
  • At 08:37 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Turbinator wrote:

The so-called 'lesser' nations need to be admitted to a major competition but the Tri Nations/6 Nations are always going to argue against the logistics of it.

Personally I would like to see a 2 tier 5/6 nations and a similar competition to replace the Tri Nations. The European based one could have the current 6 nations + Romania, Georgia, Portugal and Russia with promotion and relegation between tiers. The relegation issue would certainly encourage the home nations to get their house in order !!

The other competition could have the Tri-Nations, Argentina, the pacific nations and possibly USA & Canada, again with a pormotion/relegation system.

There needs to be scope for these up and coming nations to develop as the attitude and commitment is there, not to mention the raw talent.

  • 3.
  • At 08:41 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • N Simpson wrote:

I agree that doors should be opened to some of these nations, in particular Argentina who you neglected to mention, to regular international competition.

However, with England players already committed to around 32 games a season and 25% of the premiership injured at any one time I can't see how we can accommodate more games in the Six Nations without losing another tournament...the Anglo-Welsh Coup springs to mind, but we all know how the RFU like their revenue streams...

I would also point out that our friends in the Southern hemisphere play a lot less games in a season than the North and their Tri-Nations has plenty of room for to accommodate the likes of Argentina or Samoa. It's a poor show that they haven't opened the doors to other countries themselves.

  • 4.
  • At 08:44 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Finney wrote:

First of all, make a 7 Nations tournament, with Argentina playing out off Madrid or San Sebastian.

And then open promotion and relegation with the existing European Nations Cup, which should be made a one season tournament, not a two season one.

The wooden spoon of the 7 Nations and the winner of the ENC can have a two-legged play-off, home and away, the winner of the play-off getting to play in the 7 Nations next year. The two matches can be played instead of two summer tour games in the Southern Hemisphere, if a team gets the wooden spoon on the 7 Nations, they are hardly going to be doing much against the SANZAR nations.

And force each 7 Nations country (maybe not Argentina if they want to play in Argentina) to play at least one ENC nation at the autumn internationals.

I think that is about fair.

  • 5.
  • At 08:45 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Hugh wrote:

Shouldn't argentina join the tri nations? It's clear the powers of the trinations don't want them there, but things are going to have to change to improve world rugby, rather than just those who are excelling at the moment. Also to expand the sixnations would cause further congestion to an already packed calender for the players. I think there are two options for Europe. Two tiers/groups is a msut, but it is how you set them up that creates options, if possible of 5/6 in each, either run side by side and the top teams play in a final, and the groups drawn from a hat each year, or a league system. Top team of upper tier are champions of europe, bottom team is relegated, and top team of second tier promoted. This gives the lesser teams a step to play international rugby and be given a chance to play with the "big boys" of european rugby.

  • 6.
  • At 08:46 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Pogo wrote:

I believe that the northern hemisphere could be improved by having a divisional system for all the teams. Relegation and promotion would be a standard procedure. For the first few years this could see the same teams yo-yoing up and down but the chance for an emerging nation to play competitively for a season against the best in the hemisphere can only lead to continuous improvement on their behalf. This World Cup has shown that the Six Nations are really the world's second division, but where oh where do we give Argentina the chance to develop their game? Personally, SANZAR need to renegotiate their contracts with the media and include the Pumas. It is almost criminal for such a talented team to be excluded from any regular season competition. Further more, perhaps a regular divisional set-up should be applied to the Pacific Rim nations (including USA & Canada) and to the African nations with the winners of each division meeting each other for a deciding match. We must keep rugby competitive all over the planet (and not just every four years) otherwise the Webb Ellis cup will just have dates added to it and no new names.

At least the Northern Hemisphere has entertained the idea of letting others in, a la Italy.

Why don't Argentina join the Tri-Nations? I know most of their players are in Europe, but surely there is more space in a fixture list made up of three teams than there is of six.

That Argentina are not in regular competition is just criminal.

  • 8.
  • At 08:49 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Hear Hear!

  • 9.
  • At 08:53 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Finney wrote:

First of all, make a 7 Nations tournament, with Argentina playing out off Madrid or San Sebastian.

And then open promotion and relegation with the existing European Nations Cup, which should be made a one season tournament, not a two season one.

The wooden spoon of the 7 Nations and the winner of the ENC can have a two-legged play-off, home and away, the winner of the play-off getting to play in the 7 Nations next year. The two matches can be played instead of two summer tour games in the Southern Hemisphere, if a team gets the wooden spoon on the 7 Nations, they are hardly going to be doing much against the SANZAR nations.

And force each 7 Nations country (maybe not Argentina if they want to play in Argentina) to play at least one ENC nation at the autumn internationals.

I think that is about fair.

  • 10.
  • At 08:56 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Lee Gooding wrote:

This is so true, we are capping the worlds talent. But what talent have we capped?? England are looking...well lack lusted!! Wales are almost there, but still looking a little weak in areas. Ireland have a good system with the terrioties facing each other and picking the best players. Apart from Ireland and Wales for the british isles...we don't have anything worthy for the world cup...I know some may argue Scotland but I can't see it. As for expanding the six nations, yes include the members of for argintina, wouldn't it be better for them to join the tri nations a long with samoa and tonga??

  • 11.
  • At 08:58 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • IRISHLAD wrote:


I think your being a tad idealistic.

I would agree that it has been amazing seeing the lesser rugby nations being competitive - but I think that each county should be viewed on its own merits.

Argentina - should definitely be allowed in. They should play out of Spain/Basque country and would really add something to the competition.

Georgia - they should be given more funding and the IRB should dictate that one or two of the 6 nations teams must play "challenge" matches against them. From all accounts, rugby is a growing sport in Georgia and there should be a real drive to promote the game. I would not be surprised with the lure of € from Fra and Eng that there will be many 18 stone greco roman wrestlers looking to pick up the oval ball.

Portugal - I have played rugby in Portugal and it is very much a "university" game. I don't see at this stage, that a trip to Twickers or Stade in Feb or March to get beaten by a cricket score would do anything for Portugese rugy or the 6N.
The IRB should again increase funding.

I wouldnt hold ny breath though - the selection of NZ over Japan for the next staging of the comp is indicative of the "protectionist" attitude of those who make the decisions in the game. THey are a disgrace and are only interested in keeping the status quo.

  • 12.
  • At 08:59 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

whilst I'd love to see the likes of Portugal et al playing more regularly against 'major' nations - how the heck would we structure a xNations (where x = 7, 8, 9, or even 10 teams)? With that number of internationals to play, we'd have to start in the autumn, and so abandon playing the southern hemisphere sides except in World Cups or tours. That may not be a bad idea actually! Though I'm sure many of the clubs would be most displeased!

Also, the protectionism of the Tri-Nations seems even worse, especially when NZ and Australia then 'pinch' a lot of the Fijian/Samoan/Tongan's best players.

  • 13.
  • At 09:01 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Hear Hear!

  • 14.
  • At 09:05 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

The cost of such a move would surely make it unfeasible. Unless Argentina want to play all of their games away. Why not put Argentina in the Tri Nations?
Georgia and Portugal and the likes need more competitive games to improve, but the truth is that 999 times out of a 1000 they will be cannon fodder.
Why not have a Six Nations and a Six Nations B tournament (Portugal, Romania, Georgia, Russia, Belgium, Moldova) And maybe after 4-5 years start a one up one down policy to help development?

  • 15.
  • At 09:06 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • effort wrote:

Can't help comparing rugby to football, which has a lot more cup competitions at all levels of the game, which gives these sides at all levels something to really aim for. Similar to Turbinator's suggestion, why not have more cup tournaments around the globe? Already you can see one for Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and the Pacific Rim. And everyone loves cup tournaments - countries, supporters, corporate sponsors...




  • 17.
  • At 09:08 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Evan wrote:

Couldn't agree more, although I think the organisational committees of both the Tri Nations and 6 Nations would put up major resistance as the revenue provided from the 'lesser teams' matches wouldn't be enough. Also, there is the argument of having more international matches within an already cramped season.

Ideally, if the domestic leagues were structured better then maybe teams such as Portugal, Namibia, and Georgia could start off by playing friendlies against the big club and regional sides such as Leicester, the Ospreys, Munster etc.

  • 18.
  • At 09:08 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Oliver wrote:

Hallelujah. Let's shake things up a bit and maybe a bit of their joy for the game will brush off on us.
I was in Cardiff on Saturday, and it looked like our Welsh boys didn't even want to be there. If they don't want to front up in a make-or-break world cup game against one of the big three. In Cardiff! then I despair, I really do.




  • 20.
  • At 09:17 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Belm wrote:

I think a two-tier European competition would make sense - no-one likes the Wooden Spoon but fighting against relegation would certainly be more meaningful. Whether it raises the level of competition, however, is debatable as it might lead to the fear factor getting the better of teams and stufling games. But the biggest pitfall would be the prospect of the same side yo-yo-ing up and down between the two divisions most of the time - not sure whether there's much benefit in that. The likes of Georgia and Portugal have done themselves proud in the RWC, but would they reach a consistency? They've received financial help and other resources from the IRB in preparing for the RWC, yet without that support would they maintain the same level?
The biggest problem in the NH and Wales and England especially since the game went professional has been (and still is) self-interest etting in the way of progress.

  • 21.
  • At 09:20 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • jimbo wrote:

I agree. The best way would be to have a preliminary stage which involved the 6 ENC nations. both the existing 6N teams and the ENC teams could be paired into three groups. Within each group, the current 6N teams would play each of the ENC teams but not each other, 1 bonus point for 4 tries and 1 for losing within 7. After the two games, all twelve teams are pooled back together and the top 6 enter the 6N. I think you`d still find the usual suspects for a while, but the day will come when one of the sides breaks into the tournament. 12 teams and only two extra games.

  • 22.
  • At 09:24 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • jimbo wrote:

I agree. The best way would be to have a preliminary stage which involved the 6 ENC nations. both the existing 6N teams and the ENC teams could be paired into three groups. Within each group, the current 6N teams would play each of the ENC teams but not each other, 1 bonus point for 4 tries and 1 for losing within 7. After the two games, all twelve teams are pooled back together and the top 6 enter the 6N. I think you`d still find the usual suspects for a while, but the day will come when one of the sides breaks into the tournament. 12 teams and only two extra games.

  • 23.
  • At 09:25 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • anysparechange wrote:

sadly, I feel you are absolutely right. it is shocking how this self preservation tactic has hindered the development of very promising sides. the likes of Romania, Georgia etc have every right to compete with stronger nations, if it's on merit and it appears that is indeed the case.

I also cannot understand why the pacific island teams are not part of the southern hemisphere elite tournament. well, I have my suspicions, it's not the six nations who are elitist. I believe that in time, if allowed to compete they would improve and not embarrass themselves, much in the way the Azzurri have.

look at Argentina! beating the french in Paris, oh wait, we did that last week, albeit in a different sport. sorry, just had to mention it again. anyway the point is that they know how to play rugby and have evry right to compete aginst decent sides. I remember my father taking me to Murrayfield to watch Scotland v Argentina as grasshopper and him holding me up so that I could watch one the greats, Hugo Porta. having been briefed on the train from Glasgow that morning that I was going to see a truly great rugby player, I could barely contain my excitement. that was years ago and they were even then, a respectable side, still relatively underdeveloped but with a few highly talented indivuals. so why then are this now developed side still not in regular competition?

OK I've gone in a circle. the answer requires a mix of creative thinking hindered by realism. I fear it may take a while and a few more 'shocks' before the elite accept the inevitable.

  • 24.
  • At 09:27 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

I agree - definitely would like to see them included. Realistically a two tier northern hemisphere tournament might be needed, although I can't see all of the current 6 Nations being excited about relegation/promotion. I think it would spice things up and help the game as a whole.

As others have said, Argentina should be allowed into the Tri-Nations.

  • 25.
  • At 09:27 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • james Macdonald wrote:

Argentina is not the only national team coming out of the south american region, true they are the most cultured and rugby nation in south america. I think that we are moving towards a world championship type league either at club or national level . The problem will alswys be however the number of games that we ask or demand of our top players . Tri nations rugby is an event simply because it isnt fixture clogged, the key super14 guys gain momentum from that provincial competition and it shows for thew national team . in europe the number of games and competitions really puts pressure on the on going row between club and country. I think in reality there needs to be two world groups northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere . the competition needs to be held over two seasons not one with pool league type home & away fixtures leading to an eventual world championship series of tests , best of three . All the minnows get the oppertunity to play on big stages both northern and southern hemisphere, and it would promote great advances in the professional nature of the national team approach. every four years the world cuwould also be staged as a month long Knock out competition .

big idea , anyone fancy having a go at making it happen ?.....dont hold your breath.

  • 26.
  • At 09:32 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Logic would suggest the Tri Nations be expanded to accommodate Argentina. But the issue is really travel time. South Africa struggle when they visit Australia and New Zealand and vice a versa. Add Argentina into the mix and it may become impossible without extending the time period the games are played. It is also important to remember that South Africa and New Zealand have domestic competitions as well. I am sure the New Zealand provincial teams would like to see their All Blacks playing for them in the same way as the English clubs insist. So lets first co-ordinate the domestic seasons and then look at the time window for the various international tournaments.

  • 27.
  • At 09:32 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Huw Roberts wrote:

Couldn't agree more. To be fair, the performance of the "lesser" nations reflects money pumped in by the IRB. The logical step is an European league, WITH PROMOTION AND RELEGATION.

And on another note, why wasn't Portugal vs All Blacks played in Lisbon? What a day that would have been!

  • 28.
  • At 09:33 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Geoff Winn wrote:

The poor showing of the 6N teams compared to the Tri-Nations sides makes it obvious that something has to change. While I can see the geographical case for Argentina playing in the Tri-Nations, it is really the 6N teams that need to improve. Argentina in the 6N (or whatever it becomes) would help to create credible competition for SA, NZ and Australia - especially if the current 6N teams regularly found themselves losing to an Argentina side that was effectively always playing "away".

  • 29.
  • At 09:34 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • lance wrote:

Tri-Nations is a bit to tough for countries like USA and Canada, they should be placed into the six-nations along with Argentina.

  • 30.
  • At 09:34 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

You're right to talk about bringing other nations into the leading annual international competitions, but Argentina playing from Spain in a succesor to the 6 nations is a bad idea. Spain already has a reasonably decent international team, ranked higher than Portugal incidentally, but no one mentions the Spanish in the current debates because they don't have the exposure at this current World Cup. They've been there in the past though - which just goes to show what short memories everyone has. If I were a Spanish rugby fan I'd be well hacked off at how quickly my country had been forgotten by fans from the "top" nations, and how easily people are offering Spain as a base for Argentina without considering the effect on the resident national team.

Having Argentina cast a shadow over the Spanish national side will do the development of the game in Spain no good. I feel for Argentina who, being relatively isolated from top-class competition in the Americas and with all their best players based in Europe, don't quite know where to look at the moment. But the long term vision should be for a Pan-American international competition. Be ambitious! The US and Canada both have enormous potential for developing their own domestic professional leagues and could probably do so very quickly with a little of the right kind of backing. A Magners-style arrangement in S America including teams from the likes of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Brazil might also be feasible. It would play to a much bigger catchment audience (somewhere over 250million) than any of the current leagues in Europe, so despite the lower per capita GDP could still be viable. Such a group of American pro leagues should be well capable of sustaining top-class international sides on that continent. Japan is also edging towards a fully professional set-up, and had the 2011 World Cup gone their way that might have been the push they needed. Ah well.

As for Europe, perhaps a more sensible and coherent short-to-medium-term idea is to look to build a cross-border club competition with Spain, Portugal and Italy, combined population almost twice that of France and therefore full of commercial opportunities to sustain it. Europe could do with the extra expanded league to provide more playing opportunities for players of all nationalities, but it could benefit Spain and Portugal the most. Also a possibility might be some kind of Black Sea professional league with sides drawn from Georgia, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine. It's a long, long way off at the moment, but that's no reason not to start thinking about the ground work now.

Build these kinds of pro leagues a two-tier succesor to the 6N looks both more viable and more tempting. The kind of solution you suggest in which Argentina play in Europe isn't very imaginative. It's an attitude of looking principally at what benefits the existing top sides the most, rather than looking for proper, coherent, sustainable long-term opportunities for the development of the game more widely. Think of it this way - Argentina could be the class act that helps draw up the standard of other American sides, opening up a whole continent to the top-tier game.

  • 31.
  • At 09:35 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • JohnT wrote:

There should be no room for the elitist, traditionalist, not-in-my-back-yard attitudes in rugby that cannot accommodate the enormous potential and growing interest in the game. Exclusion of Argentina from the two major non-RWC competitions is an outrage. Prevention of developing nations from getting regular top-line competition is grossly unfair. In line with the other unresolved issue in Europe (Club vs. Country) maybe it is time to get rid of the Six Nations, and look towards the model that Football has adopted by running regional international tournaments at four-yearly intervals, falling mid-way between world cup tournaments. This would give ‘excluded’ nations more opportunity to compete at the highest levels, and if the regional competitions are carefully timed, it would reduce the burden of the loss of elite players from their clubs during the domestic season.

  • 32.
  • At 09:36 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

I'd like to see one or two more teams added to the six nations (possibly incoporating it as the top division of the European nations cup), but the idea that the six nations should be the main driver of rugby growth, whilst NZ, Aus and SA continue to benefit from the high-intensity highly-lucrative tri-nations closed shop (without pulling their weight) seems that it would just increase the gap that is growing betwen the tri-nations and the rest.

  • 33.
  • At 09:40 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

I agree with Hugh (5) in that a system with 2 parallel groups, ending in playoff style semi finals would be an entertaining prospect. this would give the chance for some of the emerging nations to play regualr games with the established nations, whilst also allowing the top temas (in theory) to play each other in the latter stage, therefore nullifying any argument they might have about the quality of rugby they play diminishing.

Two groups of 5 countries, drawn using a seeding system, including the current six nations, Georgia, Portugal, Russia and Argentina. Thsi woudl allow these teams at least 3 games a season against quality opposition.

As an ex-pat living in Madrid I have to admit the prospect of seeing six-nations (or whatever the new tournament would be called) games in Madrid makes me biased towards the inclusion of Argentina in the NH tournament, when in reality they shoudl have been accepted, alongside the Pacific Islanders into a SH tournament. Maybe this would also stop New Zealand recruiting all the talent from the islands to play for the ABs, surely a tactic which has greatly contributed to their current status as world number 1.

  • 34.
  • At 09:45 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Donnyballgame wrote:

Well, well well.
Whats a minnow?
Can't argue Argentina a minnow anymore, right France?
Georgia, Namibia? eh, Ireland?
OK, the 6 Nations should change and expand, but the number of matches can't increase or there will be no players left on their feet. So we create two "divisions" based on a random draw or other criteria and game on. Definitely include a few other teams. New life, new interest

  • 35.
  • At 09:53 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

I disagree prehaps the six nations should be kept as just the home nations plus France and Italy but there should be a new compettion which includes the lesser countries.

The six nations can not be expanded anymore without there being to many international matches in march and the clubs would lose their best players for 2 months but a new competion should be produced incorporating all the lesser countries in the northern hemisphere.

  • 36.
  • At 09:55 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Adam Jewitt wrote:

Totally agree with Ian Finney above for the 7 nations with Argentina. Promotion and demotion to a second league (and why stop there) would add a significant spice to the tournament and drive all teams to improve and again be able to compete with the 'big 3'.

Looking at the wider issue of playing too many games in a year, there should be a super 14 type tournament, again with a few leagues for the top 3 English, 3 French, 2 Irish, 2 Welsh, 2 Scottish, 2 Italian (potentially 2 Argentian). Promotion / demotion will ensure the correct number of teams from each coountry will be representated over time. Key to this should be a limit on overseas players of approx 5 per side (could the RFU enforce rules such as all 10's are from their home coutry?).

International squad members will be picked from these teams and will not be eligible to play for their clubs in domestic rugby.

Home and away for the Super 14 (26 games) + 6 for 7 nations + 3 Autumn internationals (Full International / Saxons type matches for these main squad players)
= 35 matches with the potential of a 2 / 3 more for play offs.

The super 14 tournament should start in January and finish at the end of June (summer rugby will be more of a spectacle as the tournament reaches its climax and will require greater levels of fitness prior to the internationals). Autumn internationals will move to later in the Summer (all games in August)and will condition players for the 7 nations (September and October).

Finally all Pacific Islanders should no longer qualify to play international rugby for countries other than their own through residence only. This needs to be toughened up through the global game. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga should all be tier 1 rugby nations but are held back for the the gain of others. These teams would complete the line up for the southern hemisphere's own 6 nations tournament.

  • 37.
  • At 09:59 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Irving wrote:

I agree with Nick Powell & Turbinator that a divisional system is the way forward. In Europe, for example, we could have a second division of Romania, Georgia, Spain & Portugal. I'd like to see the winner of the second division play off against the last-ranked team in the Six Nations for a place in the following seasons Six Nations. Actually, I'd prefer two five nation divisions with a play-off, but I think it's too late for that. This would provide a structure into which a third division could be slotted, with the same promotion/relegation arrangement.

The Southern Hemisphere could do something similar - but the top division should be four, rather than three nations. Argentina should be let in immediately.

  • 38.
  • At 09:59 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Huw wrote:

The whole structure of the northern hemisphere game needs to change. Both the club and the international game.

Our domestic club structures are so inefficient it is detrimental to the game as a whole, and is leading to the humiliation of this world cup.

The season should be structured so that the Magners/Guiness leagues precede the Heineken cup, which then leads into the 6 nations.

If the 6 nations is to expand to include the likes of Georgia, Portugal and Romania it would have to be as a 2 league system, with a final between the 2 top teams. This will guarantee the new teams a fair crack and regular competition. They may get hammered initially but it will soon change, just look at Italy.

Oh and another thing, stop summer tours every year, and stop the Autumn internationals, too much rugby is killing the game and wearing the players out.

  • 39.
  • At 10:01 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Lambo wrote:

I agree - if there's one thing I've enjoyed about this World Cup so far its the rise of the underdog. I'd love to see more of Portugal and Georgia and a two or three tier European comeptiton with promotion and relegation would really keep the home nations on their toes.

As for Argentina, they have become the dark horse that might make it to the final - another relative underdog. Let them into the Tri-nations, and make it the Four Nations - they deserve it. Infact, lets have a two or three tier tournament south of the equator.

Bring it on.

  • 40.
  • At 10:04 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • pete graham wrote:

Why not make the world cup every 2 years?
Every year would be initially too often - but possibly later?.
Maybe make some type of 2 tier competition with relegation & promotion?
This to supercede all other major championships, 6 nations, tri nations, etc - perhaps they are all a little incestuous!
rugby has a much smaller pool of playing countries than soccer - so it may work more regularly?
No answers - only questions!

  • 41.
  • At 10:09 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • ChampionNoodles wrote:

I couldn't agree with you more. We are far too elitist in protecting what we see as the cream of European rugby. It is about time we allowed so called 'minnow' nations the chance to play against the so called big rugby nations. It is the only way they will improve and the only way, it would seem on current watching, that we will be able to develop our own skill set and become better teams.

  • 42.
  • At 10:22 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mr Chicken wrote:

Distance Buenos Aires to London 6900
Distance to Cape Town 4200
Distance to Sydney 7300
But time difference between Buenos Aires and London is considerably less than to Sydney. Something of a moot point given that majority of Argentinas team are based in Europe.
What of the club game in Argentina?
Surely it makes most sense for the Pumas to play in 7 nations and Samoa et al to compete in an expanded tri nations. Something would have to give at club level to accomodate this but this would mean administrators at all levels setting aside vested interests and when is that likely to happen??

  • 43.
  • At 10:23 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • justin wrote:

Interesting! There was talk in Aus not so long ago about expanding the Tri Nations to include Argentina. I personally thing that would be AWESOME for rugby. The Pumas deserve their chance to regularly front up the the game's big guns. I wonder which competition they would choose if they were offered the chance to enter either the Six Nations or the Tri Nations....?

As for the 'minnow' nations, I guess they won't improve until they face regular competition of a higher calibre. I don't see how appearing once every four years at a World Cup and getting flogged by 100+ points is ever going to help these nations. But I guess establishing deep, competetive domestic leagues like the Super 14 and the Premiership is equally difficult. I would love to see a European league operate but I guess the contra agrument is that it could water down the competition for the established sides (home nations?) rather than strengthen it...? As with seemingly everything these days, money and interests need to be balanced... :(

  • 44.
  • At 10:28 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Alastair wrote:

To be fair to New Zealand, I think most of their current squad who come from 'Pacific' backgrounds were at the very least brought up in New Zealand, if not actually born there. Is it really any different from England picking Matt Stevens and Mike Catt, Wales picking Sonny Parker, Scotland picking Nathan Hines, etc?

Which is not to say that it's criminal that Fiji, Tonga and Samoa don't get to compete against the Tri-Nations countries on a regular basis.

Two-division European tournament sounds like a good option to me - 2 divisions of 5 or 6 teams, start from 2009, with Wooden Spooners in the 6N 2008 facing a year in the lower tier, Argentina replacing them.

  • 45.
  • At 10:29 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • kipperchris wrote:

This is a fantastic idea - a 2 tier system in europe would soon wake us up and we would start to see some great rugby as the 'minnows' catch us up over, say, 5 years. We would have to learn how to play decent rugby again and whilst the SH countries remain trapped in time, the NH and Argies would overtake them physically and skill wise and stop their gloating/preening/bullsh*t.
Bring it on!

  • 46.
  • At 10:29 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Taylor wrote:

Here's a suggestion based on form so far in wotld cup and last few years.

10 Nations

Lge 1

Lge 2

Some sort of cup competition between other nations (Spain, Uraguay etc) to replace bottom side of Leauge 2 each year. Top of Lge 2 replaces Bottom of Lge 1 (and for extra intrest play off between 2nd bottom Lge 1 against Second Lge 2?)

  • 47.
  • At 10:33 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Hotspur7 wrote:

I agree that this World Cup as shown up the Northern Hemisphere so far.
Clubs have ignored talent and gone for the easy option: gym monkeys bulked up as a substitute for flair, resulting in the attritional tripe that passes for too much NH rugby these days.
My fear for the Portugals of this world is that if they were allowed into the 6Ns, they would very soon go the way of the rest - collision rugby between gym behemoths.
We have not seen this process applied to the same extent in the SH, where flair has not been sacrificed to bulk - the ABs for example have used bulk to enhance natural flair, not as a substitute for it.
And on the subject of rucks - what the hell happened to the good old fashioned clear out, when the oppostion was cleared 10 metres away for the ball? Has it been outlawed?
Today's "bridge" technique would not survive if the old technique was re-introduced.

  • 48.
  • At 10:34 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

as an aside, perhaps next time the RWC is played in Europe, we should abandon the 6Nations for that season, and play the tournament in Feb-April, when we'll be at our peak, rather than when the southern hemisphere teams are hitting theirs.

  • 49.
  • At 10:36 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Wingnut wrote:

Nothing has changed in the world order of rugby. The blip was England winning in 2003. Now we're back to watching AB's SA and Os trash the 6 nations teams, which has been the established order for decades. In other sports this state of affairs might have led to structural changes, but in RU, southern hemisphere teams can't simply play each other ad infinitum and must generate proper money by playing in the UK & France i.e. where RU is well supported. This relationship dominates the game because that is where the money is.

The future for Georgia and Portugal etc. is not in arranging more international games with the big guns, but in developing national club structures that become competitive and produce players of quality.

  • 50.
  • At 10:40 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

Totally agree this world cup has brought into the spotlight the order of world rugby.
I totally agree that the pacific islands should be allowed into the tri nations along with Argentina.

As for the 6 nations it should be 2 groups of 5. England, France Scotland Ireland and relegation fodder Wales. In group A and group B Portugal, Italy, Russia, Georgia and Romania. With a third tier below this for the really emerging nations. All done on a 1 up one down basis.

FINALLY i would like to bring the attention of the world to the mighty All Blacks they are a great team but look at the star wingers Joe Rockotoko and Siviatu if the opportunities were fair would these 2 stars of world rugby be so ready to abandon there Fijian roots? Look at the New Zealand squad how many more have moved for the money?
Would they have done if the IRB s money shared more sensibly? To discourage Pacific island stars jumping ship to earn more with New Zealand. Would the All Blacks be odds on without these additions?


  • 51.
  • At 10:42 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

lets not forget though - the magic of the 6Nations IS the tradition. To dilute it with 'lesser' rugby nations, will dilute the drama, except for those key matches (i.e. everyone else v England :-) )

Also, with all these international matches, where is club rugby, the ultimate source of international players, to be fitted in? We still need competitions for them like the European cup, to make that transition from club/region to the international stage; also, we need the club competitions (league/cup) to feed those top club teams. I never thought I'd be saying this, but having TOO many international matches, may end up ruining the game as a whole (as I've always believed the international should take precedence over club considerations)

  • 52.
  • At 10:45 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Rachael Ferguson wrote:

I believe that the Six Nations should be opened up. In terms of the European teams, it should come down to a relegation/qualification situation. I agree with that opinion definitely. However in the case of Argentina, I do not think they should be included in either, the Tri-Nations or the Six Nations. My reasoning for this is purely for the advancement of world Rugby. I think that Argentina are a emerging power in world rugby, their team has the depth, pace and attitude of the best. But I think that the IRB should use this as a way of creating a kind of 'Americas Cup' including the best of that continent. The USA, Canada and Uruguay. Now you may think that this isn't fair to Argentina as the competition isn't fierce enough, although its not the case based on this RWC. I think that making a competition specifically for this region will boost the sport in the US, Canada and other regions, especially Argentina, making it a more competitive region for Rugby Union.

  • 53.
  • At 10:48 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Boris wrote:

I think allowing the 'minnow' nations into one of the European competitions would be a better starting point for them than allowing them into the six nations -
Start them off in the lowest one, if they're that good they'll win it and can be moved up to the Heineken cup -if they were win that then they'd have a case for six nation inclusion.

They could still play in a second tier six nations and RWC qualifiers- which I believe would improve in quality the more these sides play against better oppostion such as the six nations clubs/regions

As for Argentina - it's difficult but surely the Tri Nations should accomodate them purely based on geography.

  • 54.
  • At 10:55 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • john wrote:

good idea but with number of games that players have to play already very high, I dont think the French or English clubs will go for it.
Also what is the CC for?

  • 55.
  • At 10:58 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I agree whole-heartedly that both the 6N and Tri-nations need to expand, but in the case of Argentina the correct place is Europe. As Peter pointed out, the travel distances are just too big to do Africa, South America and Australasia. Look on the map guys. Also, many of the Argentine players are already based in Europe. What the tri-nations needs is a "West Indies" style Pacific Island team, with a secondary competition feeding players in from their home nations.

DaveM/Daniel: Don't listen to the excuses given by the English media. Oz/NZ don't need to 'pinch' pacific island players. Most of these guys come to NZ and Oz with their families as children for economic and other reasons. Don't forget that most of the Pacific is at third-world level. Rugby just happens to be sport they choose to play at school. Why would the All Black selectors go to the islands for players when the largest polynesian city in the world is Auckland?

  • 56.
  • At 11:00 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Matt B wrote:

Spot on John, The lesser nations have earned their chance of regular games against their older adversaries. And it would scare a few of the old school as well, which can't be bad. Let's be honest, anything that knocks the Northern hemisphere "elite" out of their comfort zones can't be bad.

  • 57.
  • At 11:05 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • BartonAlan wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with John's comments. There is indeed a 4 tier system in existence in international rugby - the Trinations, the Six Nations, the other qualifiers for the World Cup and the non-qualifiers. Rugby can only be progressed if these tiers have greater interplay. The Six Nations can only progress to the level of the Trinations if they have more opportunity to play against them, and to learn their (superior) brand of rugby, possibly from more stealing of their coaches, and possibly from improvement of our European pitches - the game would benefit from becoming a summer sport to achieve this. The same goes for the interfaces between the other tiers. And it would be sinful to reduce the number of teams back to 16 for the next World Cup as has been mooted. Further expansion would be preferable.

  • 58.
  • At 11:09 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

Great minds Johnny Boy! Really think there is scope for a second tier to 6 nations - but make it 2 divisons of 6, so:

Tier 1

Tier 2

Work on a guaranteed 1-up, 1-down basis plus play-off between Tier 1 5th place and Tier 2 2nd place - so this year, Scotland would have gone down and (for instance) Romania come up, with Wales playing Portugal as a decider.

The 'authorities' would squeal, but it would really broaden the game out.

If Georgia (again, for example) start getting games against the RBS 6 sides, then 10 years down the line they'll be a real force - they're a bit like Argentina were 20 years ago, but need encouragement.

A Pan-American set-up (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, USA, Canada)could work too - and may just give the USA & Canada the incentive they require to get things really going. Imagine all those College footballers who don't make the grade at NFL trying their hand at rugby? Big, strong, fast, great'd take time, but they could really make an impact.

Make it so, Mr Beattie!

  • 59.
  • At 11:09 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

This would be a great idea if the domestic leagues of the corresponding nations were suitably renumerated for the loss of their key players... (especially if they were subsequently injured!)

An alternative would be for the leagues to 'close down' during this period - maybe to the detriment of fewer teams in the top leagues or even disbandment of a domestic cup competition....

  • 60.
  • At 11:10 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Stewart P wrote:

I have to say John I read alot of your blogs but for once you are wrong. The money generated by the 6N is hugh and for that reason it should never be stopped. It bankrolls the scottish , welsh and irish unions.

Now instead of running off and removing the 6N what should happen is that all pro domestic rugby is stopped , the 6N is played but at the same time the 6N and all the euro teams should be involved in a Euro competion. As the 6N are so far ahead they should be limited to putting out a B Side (Not even A). I dont think we (6N) have enough strength in depth to win the euro competion with a B side but I think it would make for a fair competion and would be a good development step for young players. It should also be rotated around the countrys each year

So Portugal could host it 2010
Georgia 2011
Romania 2012
etc etc

This would give these teams a yearly hard fought competion to go and play in and allow our young/ amatuer players the next step before full international honours.

It would also be fantastic experiance fior the host countrys that they would have all the rugby crowds flocking to it every year.

  • 61.
  • At 11:10 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • sam wrote:

The future of FAIR world rugby.

Northern Hemispheire

Top tier

1.France,Ireland,Wales,Scotland and England

Second tier

2.Italy,Romania,Georgia,Portugal and Russia.

1 up 1 down and a third tier for really developing nations as required.

Southern Hemispheire

Top tier

1. New Zeland, South Africa, Australia, Argintiana, 1 Pasific island nation.

Second Tier

2. THE OTHER 2 Pacific island Nations, Nabibia, Japan and Korea

Again 1 up 1 down.

Say no more just forward this to the IRB.

  • 62.
  • At 11:10 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

DaveM: Yes you're right there. The SH sides had Super14, Tri-nations, domestic competitions, and warm-up games to get prepared. The only risks they were running are fatigue and injury.

Rachael: I think that since Argentina beat France at home in a world cup you can safely say they have "emerged". Would be great to see Canada/USA stepping up too.

  • 63.
  • At 11:12 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Nico Zandberg wrote:

Everybody saying argentinia should join the tri-nations is wrong. They have never beaten any of the sanzar teams! They should make a new tournement for them or join the six nations. They should leave the tri nations as is. It's clear that any team joining it is only set for a huge humiliation...

  • 64.
  • At 11:16 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Hunter M wrote:

Remember that it is only the founding fathers (5N + Tri-nations) who have two votes each in the IRB and its subsidiary the RWC, plus one each for Canada, Argentina, Japan and Italy. The remaining 90 rugby playing countries have zero votes, a unique situation in World sport and the main reason that Olympic participation is out of the question. Of course these countries are protectionistic, they form a cartel whose primary function is to maintain the status quo. To avoid nasty problems like qualifying, the RWC has now decided that the top 12 will now qualify, FOUR YEARS IN ADVANCE, for 2011. With participating nations probably being cut to 16, this leaves four places for over 90 rugby playing countries. This tells me a fair amount about the self-serving, blinkered geriatrics who have appointed themselves to leading positions in world rugby.

  • 65.
  • At 11:20 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Jay: Joe Rokocoko arrived in NZ with his family when he was 5 years old - hardly "jumping ship" to play for the ABs.

Sivivatu did arrive a bit later. He was 15.

  • 66.
  • At 11:21 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • mike p wrote:

not sure i could afford the £5000 (match ticket extra) that mike Burton would charge to go watch 7N game in Buenos Aires (2 star hotel of course!!)- otherwise great idea in principle just would not work in practice!

  • 67.
  • At 11:23 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ingubidire wrote:

I think that the lesser nations should be invited to participate in the Churchill cup against the Six Nations Second Teams. This tournament played in the summer wouldn't further congest the rugby schedule and would give the up and coming sides of getting a result.

  • 68.
  • At 11:24 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Perhaps the easiest way to include Argentina in a regular cup competition would be to expand the Churchill Cup. Still can't fathom how the NZ Maori got into it before Argentina did.
Over time then it may make sense for the European A-sides to withdraw to make room for the likes of Georgia, Portugal, Spain and Russia.

  • 69.
  • At 11:29 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

I agree with Rachel, 2 leagues of 5:-

Ireland Romania
England Russia
France Scotland
Argentina Portugal
Wales Italy

2 up, 2 down each year to be expanded as new teams qualify.

  • 70.
  • At 11:29 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • BaggieJonathan wrote:

Radical stuff, but now is the time to make great changes for the better.
I would look at an Atlantic League of the 6 nations plus Argentina and South Africa, in terms of time zones and tv coverage they are more on a par and it would definitely be competitive.
I would also have a Pacific league of NZ, Oz, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Japan. Possible that US and Canada could be added, with their bases being in the west such as California and Vancouver.
The others should be in regional competitions, such as Europe 'B' and Africa, they are not ready for top level yet, but with the opportunity that perhaps the winner could qualify for the Atlantic or Pacific league, the qualifiers would have to excel over time to become a permanent member of the higher league.
I would also suggest that there be an official trophy each year that the top finishing sides in each league play off for a la the NFL and the superbowl.
Inclusive, competitive, widening the product - its an approach that makes sense.

  • 71.
  • At 11:34 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • dewings wrote:

very simple boys , its a question of money .
Italy got into the 6 nations cos it provided an extra 60 M viewers ( in theory)

Argentina would provide an extra 35 M viewrs , more than NZ and Aus combined , but because of that would ask for a fair share of the viewing income etc. something Murdoch etc would not be too happy about.

As for base in Spain , its already decided that they would be based in Valencia area .... much better location in terms of accesibility for UK and Irish fans , accomodation etc.
but poorly negotiated by the regional valencian rugby federation instead of the spanish federation .

i personally think a super 14 ith buenos aires and tucuman representing argentina would be the first solution , with argentina also in the expand trinations maybe including the pacific islanders too ..

but what is right does not count , dont forget , its cash ... cash is KING

  • 72.
  • At 11:41 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Muzza wrote:

Two points raised from the blog
1. Why are Argentina (a country in the top ten of the world) still counted as a lesser second tier contry?

2. Why is it the death of the 6 nations when the southern hemisphere teams are equally at fault for not allowing Argentina (a southern hemisphere country after all) into their elite competition.

The result of including them in the Tri-nations (and even the super 14's) would be to bolster and improve the Argentinian game as a whole and should provide a local route to the top rather than the players having to come to Europe to play top quality club rugby

I do agree that we need to open the door to the rest of Europe - but no union within the six nations will ever agree to this as it threatens the current status quo. One bad season could lead to demotion and the potential death of rugby in that country

  • 73.
  • At 11:42 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Liam wrote:

Post 61 - since when has Korea and Japan been in the southern hemisphere? Also Italy demoted to the second tier! That would unwind all the hard work that Europe has done to nuture new talent.

There is no doubt that Argentina are one the best teams in the world and would certainly be potential grand slam winners in the 6N. It would arguab;y strengthen our competition. But I cannot cope with the illogical nature of Arg playing home games in Spain or Belgium in a European competition. They would then effectively be a northern hemisphere side and I am not convinced that their grass roots game would get the benefit that the Italian game would get.

Should our duty be to help Romania, Spain (who are better than Portugal by the way), Georgia, Portugal?

We neglected Romania when they were crying out for international competition and now they are a shadow of their former selves. What about an Agreement with Arg to play in 6N out of Spain for 5 years. After which we would give that place to a European country. Argentina would then go back and create an American tri nations. Remember Canada got to the RWC quarter finals before Argentina ever did!

  • 74.
  • At 11:50 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Help, I've a question to ask and I hope someone will be able to tell me the answer.

My wife is going to be in St. Etienne to support Scotland vs Italy.

I'd like to buy her a new Scotland shirt. But I'd like it to be the colour that Scotland wear when they play Italy that day.

How are the shirts colours decided and does anyone know already what colour shirts Scotland will wear that day?



  • 75.
  • At 11:56 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Willybach wrote:

Fixture congestion is the real concern here - the tri-nations teams play far less than us. Argentina, a combined Pacific Islanders team, and possibly japan could all be included into an expanded "Southern-Six" competition, whilst I agree promotion and relegation between a two tier european competition would be a step in the right direction. But again, back to fixture congestion, most top British teams are involved in a league of either twelve or eleven teams that play each other twice, plus european competition and a knock out cup of some description. Well, thats patently too much, just look at the injury list, and the performances in this world cup. A balance has to be acheived, between income and player burnout, and quickly. Then, with a dramatically reduced fixture list, then, we can look realistically at helping our european nighbours. Its not just Romania, Portugal and Georgia after all, Holland, Russia, Spain, Germany etc, all have real potential to spread the game. We're kidding ourselves that its a global game, but it could be.

  • 76.
  • At 11:56 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Wingnut wrote:

Whatever happened to the proposal that England should leave the 6 nations and play SA NZ and Os a couple of times every year?

  • 77.
  • At 12:04 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • BartonAlan wrote:

Hey, Tom, what about the others? There are Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Moldova, Belgium, Poland who could be included, and most countries in Europe seem to have been involved in the qualifiers. Best have 6 teams per division, perhaps 4 or 5 divisions and have 2 up 2 down each season, that will spread the abilities quicker and make the games more competitive at the lower levels of each division. you could also have a European knockout cup every 2 years.

  • 78.
  • At 12:09 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

Mark - yes I realise a lot of the Islanders were raised in NZ and so go through the All Black system to international level, but if the lands of their fathers (as it were) had the resources to nurture their talent, and they turned out for Fiji, or Samoa, or Tonga instead, it would be interesting to see how this would shake up the world game.

Just an interesting thought really, as its pretty unlikely to happen.

  • 79.
  • At 12:09 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Your all missing the point that 3 of the best (if not the best three) nations in RWC play in a Tri-Nation competition. Doesnt seem to have done them much harm. NH players are already playing too many hard games.

  • 80.
  • At 12:12 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • ieuan wrote:

such an expansion of the vi nations should only come in once the IRB have been funding the 'lesser' nations for longer than a few months (as must have been the case wit portugal?).

the short preparation time they've had, these teams have come along playing a forward based game. georgia would've beaten ireland if their forwards wern't so determined to keep hold of the ball & the flyhalf wasn't constantly looking for the drop goal.

argentina should not be in the vi nations. they play 3 games in the AIs anyway & could increase that to 4. they should play in a pan american tournament once canada & USA develop enough.

but for britain...our domestic game needs big changes (especially for scotland).

  • 81.
  • At 12:15 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • MpH wrote:

Could we not just bin the six nations and instead have an every 4 year competition in a similar way to footballs euro 2008?

  • 82.
  • At 12:22 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Darren wrote:

why not have a european cup every four years which splits the world cup cycle

  • 83.
  • At 12:23 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Pier wrote:

Argentina out of TRI NATIONS is ridicuolous. Samely ridicolous would be to have them based in Spain.Why not Norway? Or why not base Ireland in Namibia to join TRI NATIONS ?
TRI NATIONS has home and away games during the same season, 6 nations has only home or away games in the same season.
Here are some possible solutions:

1 - As for 6 Nat, TRI Nations should not have home away games against a specific team in the same season once expanded


2 - Expanded TRI NATIONS could play the entire tournament in the same country maybe even in two countries yearly), alternating countries every year. This would eliminate travel stress by aggregating games but still allow the same share of home-away games in the long term (4 years, as many as the teams are).

  • 84.
  • At 12:23 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

It's a bit rich coming from Beattie-a Scot-as the SRU is the most backward,protectionist of all the countries.Some of his playing pals,John Jeffrey etc did not want Italy into the 6N and probably years ago did not want France.All those fee paying school chums ie second class "public schools" (actually they're private)saying they want it kept to the old school tie brigade(of which JB is a member)France has been responsible for the aadvance in Georgia,Portugal etc but I would not expect any credit on this blog.Argentina should definately be a member of one group be it 6N or Tri-Nation

  • 85.
  • At 12:29 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

How about having 2 seeded groups with the top teams qualifying for a knock-out stage.

  • 86.
  • At 12:31 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

Why not permit the lesser countries into the European club competitions first......learning to walk before one can run etc, just for a few years. Getting these nations the exposure to highly competitive games is the way to go. Valuable revenue, exposure, competitive games etc, too good an opportunity to miss. Argentina should be joining the 6N rather than the Tri-Nations, Most of their best players are in Europe so why should they not play in the premier competition in Europe.

  • 87.
  • At 12:33 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Colin Porteous wrote:

Why not have a Euro nations competition instead of the 6 Nations.

The top 4 rated countries could go directly into the finals with the rest qualifying for a 2 groups of 4 finals (one match against each team) with the winners playing of for the title

  • 88.
  • At 12:37 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

First of all having read other comments, There is no need to expand the Six nations! There are second d and third...etc tiers of Euro rugby already, which have promotion and relegation. The Six Nations B is played over 2 yeas and the bottom spot is relegated, and the top of the third tier is promoted. Al we have to do is have the Six nations B played over one year and have promotion relegation with the Six nations. I reality for Argentina they aught to have a IRB funded Americas tournament including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, USA, Canada. This will help All the teams in the New World!

  • 89.
  • At 12:48 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ieuan Johns wrote:

Yes yes yes.

There should be an expanded European competition.

Scrap the God-Awful autumn internationals and instead run two five team competitions between the 6-nations, Argentina, Romania, Portugal and Georgia. Top 3 in each group go to the six nations in the Spring. Bottom teo go into a second tier competiton along with the likes of Russia, Spain, Croatia and anyone else willing to send a team that will provide 4 qualifyers for next years Autumn qualifying.

Or if they really must keep the Autumn tours then make the six-nations bi-annual and run the qualifyers in the middle years.

That way the lesser nations get more quality rugby, we as fans get more variation in the rugby calendar and the game can actually grow.

  • 90.
  • At 01:03 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Brightonsteve wrote:

Its all to do with hard cash, something that the Pumas, Samoa, Japan et al do not have. Witness the "opening" of the South Stand at Twickenham where the All Blacks were paid around £1m to pitch up and play, follwed by the Pumas a couple of weeks later who got next to nothing.

ALL of the 6 and Tri nations can afford to ship thier teams around the world plus officials along for the ride. But the same cannot be said for the smaller nations. They do not have the sponsorship, support or commitment from the IRB (controlled and managed by the 6 and tri nations) to make this happen. For far too long rugby has been a closed shop with the established teams looking down on the emerging nations as a neccessary need.
However what this world cup is showing is that the gulf is shortening and eventually the old f**ts (apollogies to Will Carling)will have to give in....personally I cant wait.

  • 91.
  • At 01:04 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Claye wrote:

I totally agree with John's comments.

  • 92.
  • At 01:06 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Campden Jones wrote:

At this stage, no national governing body is going to be keen on losing the revenue they glean from 2 or 3 home international games per season, and are therefore unlikely to go for the relegation/qualification options.

An interesting take would be to introduce the Emerging Nations competition (to take place each autumn) for the likes of Georgia, Romania, Spain, Portugal etc. The winner would then qualify for the extended revamped 8 Nations competition, with the existing 6 Nations and Argentina (playing in Spain or elsewhere if it clashes with Spanish representation).

To reduce fixture congestion: the eight teams would be split into two pools (either by a full draw, or based on previous year's placings), and each of the four teams in each pool would play each other once in the first three weeks of the competition.

The winner from each pool (home advantage maybe to tempt teams to win) would then play the second ranked team from the other pool in two semi-finals in the fourth week, and then the winning teams from those two games would meet in a final in the fifth week (with a third/fourth decider to keep the revenue stream up).

What do you think.

  • 93.
  • At 01:20 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I think people are writing off Canada and the US far too quickly here - as someone mentioned, Canada was in the 1/4 finals of the RWC before most of the countries being discussed even competed.

Looking into the blue sky to find a new formation that will help the development of the game is great fun, but it's important to be a little realistic. And part of that is to understand that being a top-tier rugby player in Canada, the US, Romania, Georgia, and Argentina means that you're playing for an English, Welsh, or French professional team. I don't know about Romania or Georgia, but in the US and Canada, that is not likely to change.

There will never be a domestic/north american professional league where good players can both develop as youngsters and become top-notch world-quality players. So the best players for most of these second-tier teams will spend their time in Europe - which makes a Pan-Am tournament impossible. There would be problems with European clubs not releasing players, with travel - and such a tournament would be from the outset a tournament for the B sides of Argentina, Canada, and the US.

I think the best possible thing to do is quite simple: for a time, the IRB should partially subsidize the development of national training centers for countries like Canada, the US, and Argentina in Europe and develop two additional tiers of 6 nations each in annual competition. I would put Canada, the US, Argentina, plus the three best non-6N teams in the top tier and the next 6 in the second tier - and after two years or so, start relegating the bottom team from the 6N to the new formation and promoting the top team to the 6N.

  • 94.
  • At 01:32 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Richard W wrote:

Picking up on various comments, why not have regional competitions every four years mid-way between the world cup: Europe, Pac Rim, Americas (not dissimilar to the round ball competitions). That way the emerging nations get to compete every two years and the established nations keep their historic competitons. The schedule for England would be: 2008 6N; 2009 new Euro comp; 2010 6N; 2011 WC

  • 95.
  • At 01:46 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Daniel, do get a grip. Just because SOME elements of the SRU have been protectionist and parochial, you think JB shouldn't speak his mind? Please explain.

  • 96.
  • At 01:49 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Phil Evans wrote:

Argentina belong in the Tri-nations not the 6 nations.

Don't people know where the equator is any more.

Northern hemisphere means just that.

A second division international competition? I don't think so.

If they want a competition let them start their own.

  • 97.
  • At 01:53 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • lance wrote:

All good ideas but will it work logistically I think it will be a nightmare to have these teams fly all over the place. And having them based in a country other than their own is totally crazy. More teams in the tri-nations equals more games what about the curry cup and the s14 who makes use of the same players.

  • 98.
  • At 01:55 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Leigh wrote:

Leave the tri-nations alone. It is a short (6 weeks) competition that is absolutely gripping.

Anyway, at what time of the day could the matches in Argentina possibly be scheduled so that they could also be watched in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand at a reasonable time, preferably in a pub with a drink in ones hand? Impossible!

  • 99.
  • At 02:00 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • bryan hewitt wrote:

If rugby is to be a global game it must spread the message.

Argentina should be rewarded for their development. Inclusion in the Tri-Nations should be considered.

And maybe even have the Lions return.

  • 100.
  • At 02:02 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • John Beattie wrote:

A few great comments here. I do believe that we protect ourselves at the expense of others - my firm belief is that more and more countries could and should be at the top table.

How you effect change is the big question though. The broadcasters like it as it stands, but I think a proper pan European competition would be the biggest kick up the backside rugby could have.

Pretending that there are only six or so "worthwhile" countries in the Northern Hemisphere is bonkers - maybe we should scrap the "god awful" november internationals as someone has suggested.

Yours with odd shaped balls, John Beattie

  • 101.
  • At 02:06 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • David Mac wrote:

Money, money, money.
Good ideas. Integrating Europe, with Argentina, into leagues.
Pity the poor clubs.
They loose players for the home internationals, relying on foreign players at that time.
Now the foreign players will be off as well.
At least they will be able to groom local talent!!!
Pity the poor clubs.

  • 102.
  • At 02:18 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

Whilst I couldn't agree more that Argentina really needs more top flight rugby wouldn't it be more natural for them to play in an expanded tri nations? rather than trying to mix southern and Northern hemisphere climates, adding to an already long fixture list interupting club play and huge traveling distances. Also whilst Georgia did give Ireland a run for their money I don't see how one good match means automatic inclusion into the six nations, as for Portugal they have looked a bit like a poor university team and I don't see how getting turned over by at least fifty points a game is going to help encourage grass roots rugby.
Sure leave the six nations open to expansion but lets not chuck teams in before their ready as the end result could mean devaluing the whole competition. Italy joined when they were ready and it has worked out really well but in the case of Argentina the real nut to crack is the ultra protective tri-nations.

  • 103.
  • At 02:20 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Niall wrote:

The standard of rugby in georgia, portugal etc. would be equivalent to that of domestic league sides, admitting them as a "province" in the irish sence of the term (if you look at it northern ireland is effectively a country, in soccer terms anyway, and they play in the celtic league as ulster) to the likes of the celtic league which would provide additional depth to the competition and develop play in those nation as well as the additional revenue it would entail.

  • 104.
  • At 02:25 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Slider wrote:

John, please will you and all your colleagues get the facts first before you write this story (again!) of how 2nd tier countries allegedly never play international rugby outside world cups.

The European Nations Cup comprises 35 teams in 3 divisions (7 sub-divisions). There is promotion and relegation between those, although not to and from the 6 Nations. As far as I know, Romania and Georgia tied for the last Division 1 title. Should the winner replace Scotland? Probably not. Should they play a playoff match? Perhaps.

I also suggest you contact the IRB for details of the Africa Cup, the Pacific Nations Cup, the Nations Cup, the North America 4 and other regional and international tournaments. In many of these, the 'A' sides of South Africa, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina also compete. You probably know about the Churchill Cup because, oh yes, England have a team in that.

  • 105.
  • At 02:28 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

Comment 79. Is this guy serious? The best 3 in the WC play in the tri nations and its not done them any harm.

Yes its not done them any harn but it is not helping world rugby at all what about the developing nations is this not the point. Is he happy watching the same 4 or 5 teams trying to win. Or do you want this great game to grow and there in 16 years time to be 8 or 9 in with a chance of winning.
Rugby does not belong to the rich nationas and the rich men in suits at the IRB i wish they would understand this.

I guess he likes his elite sports but for me i want to see the most talented sportsmen possible playing in the WC not the same old rich nations over and over again. When will they learn they are only better becase of inferstructure(funding) not skill.

  • 106.
  • At 02:30 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • danny wrote:

yes this really needs to happen if rugby is to progress and be on the same level as football. it is criminal hasnt joined one of the top tier competions. there is a huge diffrence of quaity in rugby. australia can beat japan 91-3 while they can beat other asian nations 50+. the six nations needs to be expanded with the pumas and maybe georgia/romania joining. i like the promotion relegation idea. There should be a 7 nations a second division consisting of:
spain and/or ukraine and also lets have a third and fourth division. canada and the usa couldnt cope in the tri-nations but they also need a comperion maybe whith the pacific islanders, uraguay(spelling) and japan.
SANZAR have not helped the sport by banning there players from playing in europe, granted there trying to help there own leauge.
finally if the fijians had kept all there players there backs would look something like this.

9.Mosese Raulini
10.nicky little
11.joe Rokocoko
13.rupini caucaubini
14.sitivini sivivatu
15.kameli ratavu/norman lingari

not bad is it. also were are collins, rodney and mealume from. that is far more signifant than england, scotland ect.

  • 107.
  • At 02:30 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • danny wrote:

yes this really needs to happen if rugby is to progress and be on the same level as football. it is criminal hasnt joined one of the top tier competions. there is a huge diffrence of quaity in rugby. australia can beat japan 91-3 while they can beat other asian nations 50+. the six nations needs to be expanded with the pumas and maybe georgia/romania joining. i like the promotion relegation idea. There should be a 7 nations a second division consisting of:
spain and/or ukraine and also lets have a third and fourth division. canada and the usa couldnt cope in the tri-nations but they also need a comperion maybe whith the pacific islanders, uraguay(spelling) and japan.
SANZAR have not helped the sport by banning there players from playing in europe, granted there trying to help there own leauge.
finally if the fijians had kept all there players there backs would look something like this.

9.Mosese Raulini
10.nicky little
11.joe Rokocoko
13.rupini caucaubini
14.sitivini sivivatu
15.kameli ratavu/norman lingari

not bad is it. also were are collins, rodney and mealume from. that is far more signifant than england, scotland ect.

  • 108.
  • At 02:35 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Poole wrote:

I agree that all these emerging nations should be given access to more top fixtures, whether it be a 2nd Tier 6 Nations or some other regular tournament, but this may take an age to organise and agree on. In the meantime the RFU should grasp the nettle and organise games against these countries for England A or Saxons (whatever their called these days), so that our up and coming players get some more worthwile games which can only help prepare them for the bigger stage, (and god don't we need it!) and at the time helping the smaller nations.

One more point, someone has mentioned that the 6 Nations is a lot about history, which i agree with, but Italy have not been long in and the Rome trip is now a firm favourite with fans from all countries. I'm sure Portugal & Georgia away would soon be the same!

  • 109.
  • At 02:37 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

#84 - Daniel, steady on old-boy, let's not get too vitriolic about it. Yes, the SRU is stuck-up, backward and has little interest in change, but it's not all down to the public-school brigade. Remember, without them many of Scotland's great players may not have come through (the Hastings's, the Calders, Irvine, Sole, etc).

On to the point of the thread - change is needed and that needs the member unions to drive it. Who controls the unions? Well in Scotland it's the clubs - and as long as the SRU are doing right by the clubs, it'll all stay exactly as it is. So, we need mass altruism at club level to get our unions to change the way the international game is run.

Likely? Despairingly, I think not.

  • 110.
  • At 02:41 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

Forgive a second comment. Why focus the debate on developing or changing international competitions? I know these are the big crowd-pullers (and consequently money-spinners), but for the game to grow properly and develop real depth and interest, the focus should be on raising the standard of the domestic game. Countries like Italy, Argentina, Japan, the USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal and Korea all have the potential to support professional rugby, either individually or in sensible cross-border competitions. And getting some kind of domestic representation from the Pacific island nations into a succesor to the Super-14 is both just and necessary to make sure these nations continue to produce such high-quality rugby players.

Achieve this, and regional and global international competitions become both more attractive and more viable.

I do think we have to wean the domestic game off its financial dependence on international rugby. The Top-14, Guinness Premiership and the S14 are probably the only leagues capable of sustaining themselves. The Magners league would probably fold without the 6N-generated subsudies from the Celtic nations' unions, which is a sad state of affairs that should be rectified if at all possible.

Build the domestic game and let the international competitions sit on top. It's daft to try to develop the international game without laying some kind of foundations.

  • 111.
  • At 03:02 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

This has to be one of the most complicated problems in world sport and has been brought about by the sport going professional before the game had truly appreciated its growing global potential. The issue of providing the means for the developing nations to progress was a tricky enough business before the advent of professionalism and now with the need for players to be playing full time rugby to truly compete on a long term basis (The wonderful grit and passion shown by these teams can only go so far) a domestic professional rugby league within or between at least a few of these nations must be cultivated to support the international sides (A kind of Magners league with a couple of pro teams representing each Country's club interests). Without this we will inevitably see a guiness premiership type scenario whereby the relegated team will simply spring back up time after time which would be barely better than the current situation.

  • 112.
  • At 03:12 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • TommyGunn wrote:

I once played host to a couple of members of the New Zealand Schools U19 rugby team when they did a tour of England in 96-97, and whilst many of the team were what 'native NZ', a lot were picked up on scholarship by one of the big rugby schools in NZ, and consequently moved to NZ with their families, including Willie Ofahengaue's nephew... (incidentally, Willie, a Tongan who was 'naturalized' and played in the 91 final for Australia, also played for NZ Schools)

Nah, theres no cherrypicking going on at all...

  • 113.
  • At 03:23 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

why not let those teams who are 3rd and 4th in the groups in the world cup, have their own knockout competition. That would mean exposure (probably thrashings in many cases) to the big boys, but then a meaningful mini-tournament (with a 'plate' trophy at the end) for the 'minor' nations. Much like many of the 7's events. Of course, the way they are playing at the mo, this plate tournament may have involved Ireland, oe even England and Wales if it were in place this year! :-)

  • 114.
  • At 03:33 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Twigs wrote:

Why not think a little further outside the box? Just shouting "expand!" isn't good enough, when fixture congestion is such a problem in NH rugby.

Some thoughts-

Move the NH season. If NH and SH seasons were synchronised, we'd be playing on harder pitches and more likely to run the ball than get used to mud bath dog fights. Also, games between NH and SH sides would be infinitely better as we wouldn't have one set of rusty players all the time.

The domestic season could then be streamlined.
-Domestic tournament (Magners league, Premiership..)
-European tournament
-Then, at the end of the season, the 6N. Possibly with relegation/promotion, but I'm not sure that this in itself would develop "minnows" as well as good investment in their domestic games.

Fewer domestic games are REALLY IMPORTANT. Unions would be fearful of losing revenue, but I reckon you'd see bigger crowds as the product improved and games took on more significance. Better to play one game in front of 20k than two in front of 10k!

Lose summer tours- a complete relic.

Have a world cup every 2 years. Now THAT would give the Argentinas of this world regular games.

  • 115.
  • At 03:52 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Ban Pacific Island players playing for anyone other than the Country of their Birth,How many have moved for Money Ha Ha Ha, Pull Ya heads in!Yeah those 3,4,5 year old Island Boys are very smart, We tell our parents at a very young age to move to NZ as in 12-17 years We will be an All Black.

Lets just look at the figures, as we wouldn't want figures or facts to get in the way of ignorance or stupidity would we??
Players Born in one Country currently playing for another at the RWC
England 4 players from 3 other countries
Mike Catt (South Africa)
Perry Freshwater (New Zealand)
Simon Shaw (Kenya)
Matt Stevens (South Africa)

Wales 7 players from 4 countries
Chris Horsman (England)
Dafydd James (Zambia)
Colin Charvis (England)
Ian Evan (South Africa)
Will James (England)
Sonny Parker (New Zealand)
Tom Shanklin (England)

Scotland 10 players from 3 countries
John Barclay (Hong Kong)
Andrew Henderson (England)
Gavin Kerr (England)
Dan Parks (Australia)
Craig Smith (England)
Rob Dewey (England)
Jim Hamilton (England)
Nathan Hines (Australia)
Hugo Southwell (England)
Simon Webster (England)

Ireland 5 from 4 countries
Simon Easterby (England)
Ronan O’Gara (USA)
Frankie Sheahan (Canada)
Isacc Boss (New Zealand)
Malcolm O’Kelly (England)

France 4 players from 4 countries
Pieter de Villiers (South Africa)
Thierry Dusautoir (Côte D'Ivoire)
Serge Betsen (Cameroon)
Yannick Nyanga (Congo)

Canada 3 players from 2
Nick Trenkel (South Africa)
James Pritchard (Australia)
D Van der Merwe (South Africa)

USA 12 players from 7 countries
Philip Eloff (South Africa)
Vahafolau Esikia (Tonga)
Matekitonga Moeakiola (Tonga)
Takudzwa Ngwenya (Zimbabwe)
Inaki Basauri (Mexico)
Chad Erskine (South Africa)
Owen Lentz (South Africa)
Valenese Malifa (American Samoa)
Hayden Mexted (New Zealand)
Fifita Mounga (Tonga)
Andrew Osborne (Fiji)
Salesi Sika (Tonga)

Italy 15 from 6 countries
Matias Aguero (Argentina)
Gonzalo Canale (Argentina)
Martin Castrogiovanni (Argentina)
Carlo Del Fava (South Africa)
Sergio Parisse (Argentina)
Ramiro Pez (Argentina)
Kaine Robertson (New Zealand)
Marko Stanojevic (England)
Manoa Vosawai (Fiji)
David Bortolussi (France)
Pablo Canavosio (Argentina)
Roland de Marigny (South Africa)
Santiago Dellape (Argentina)
Paul Griffen (New Zealand)
Josh Sole (New Zealand)

Portugal 3 from 2
Juan Severino (Argentina)
Andre Silva (France)
David Penalva (France)

Japan 6 players from 3 countries
C Kim, (Korea,Republic of)
Hare Makiri (New Zealand)
Phillip O’Reilly (New Zealand)
Bryce Robins (New Zealand)
Christian Loamanu (Tonga)
Luke Thompson (New Zealand)

Esteban Lozada (Belgium)

Namibia 4 players from 1 other country
Lu-Wayne Botes (South Africa)
Johannes Meyer (South Africa)
Jacques Nieuwenhuis (South Africa)
Piet Van Zyl (South Africa)

South Africa 2 player from 2 countries
Percy Montgomery (Namibia)
Bobby Skinstad (Zimbabwe)

Australia (6) from 6
George Gregan (Zambia)
Stephen Moore (Saudi Arabia)
Lote Tuqiri (Fiji)
Matt Dunning (Canada)
Guy Shepherdson (Indonesia)
Daniel Vickerman (South Africa)

New Zealand (8) from 3 different countries
Chris Masoe (Samoa)
J Rokocoko (Fiji)
Rodney So’oialo (Samoa)
Isaia Toeava (Samoa)
Jerry Collins (Samoa)
Sione Lauaki (Tonga)
Mils Muliana (Samoa)
S Sivivatu (Fiji)

Fiji (1)
Nicky Little (New Zealand)

Tonga (1)
Ephraim Taukafa (New Zealand)

Samoa 13 players from another Country
Tanielu Fuga (New Zealand)
Cenus Johnson (New Zealand)
Kas Lealamanua (New Zealand)
Daniel Loe (New Zealand)
Justin Purdie (New Zealand)
Sailosi Tagickibau (New Zealand)
Kane Thompson (New Zealand)
Gavin Williams (New Zealand)
Lome Fa’atau (New Zealand)
Leo Lafaiali’ai (New Zealand)
Junior Polu (New Zealand)
Elvis Seveali’I (New Zealand)
Justin Va’a (New Zealand)

NZ have 26 players playing for 9 different teams
England have 14 player playing for 4 different teams
South Africa have 16 players playing 8 different teams
Australia have 3 players in 3 other teams
Samoa have 5 players in 1 other team
Fiji have 5 players in 4 other teams
Tonga have 6 players in 3 other teams
Argentina have 8 players in 2 other teams

Who is helping who? or as people here in the NH say Who is Poaching who?
And to say that if say Fiji had Rokococo or Sivivatu they would have a better team lol Rugby doesnt work that way, put a good player in a team and they will win (its not like England )It comes back to coaching and Training/Fitness

Remember players can choose which country they wish to play for. I know its hard for some in the NH to understand that you can have parents born in 2 different countries and be raised in another country. Be interesting for someone to tell Jerry Collins " Jerry your not a Kiwi"

As for Argentina joining the Tri Nations have any of you ever looked at a thing called a Map? If any of you have read rugby reports then you woudl know that SA complain about the Travel and now you want the Big 3 to now Travel over 18000 miles (all the way round the SH) to play games. Would the home unions like to say Play at home then next week play in LA then travel to Toyko the next week? then travel to Paris to play?
And now some of you are saying the 3N should have Japan and or America/Canada in it along with Argentina lol

By all accounts South Africa will be pulling out of 3N/S14 when contract is up they will be playing in teh 6N and European Comps, so maybe there will be another Australian team in S14 with say some Pacific Island Nations joining in? But would need a new market (£££) since SA would have gone so you might see Japan in there as well

  • 116.
  • At 04:03 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I don't think promotion and relegation is a good idea with two divisions of 5 or 6 teams because you might just see the same teams keep going up and down year after year. I think a better idea would be to have to two groups of 5 teams in each, they each play 4 games and then the winning team from each group plays in the grand final. That means every year some of the developing nations get to play with some of the established ones. You could have the teams seeded, i.e. Ireland and England seeded first, then Wales and Argentina, then Scotland and Italy, then Georgia and Portugal, then Romania and Spain or whoever so it splits everything up nicely and you don't end up with all the big boys in one group. Doing it this way does not clutter up the fixture list and if Wales and England, for instance, aren't in each other's group and don't get to play each other they can always set up a game some other time and call it a challenge match.

  • 117.
  • At 04:19 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Chas wrote:

Expanding the 6 nations is not a risk-free operation. If a team were to join and then consistently lost by cricket scores, the sport would be undermined.

Remember, we must be wary of creating an environment where the results are a foregone conclusion. If we do this, the neutrals will walk away from the sport.

To describe the situation as 'protectionist' is way off the mark. It is in everyone's interest to expand the game around the world. We just can't forget that Rugby is hard physical sport and too many scores over 100 points could make it a bit of a joke.

  • 118.
  • At 04:45 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Norman Macdonald wrote:

I remember when Romania were beating France and terrifying both Wales and England in the Arms Park and Twickers.
However, we were not awarding caps in matches against them (even though we were selecting our best team). What a gratuitous insult.
On almost the first occasion when we awarded full caps against them, our full Grand Slam winners of 1984 were stuffed in Bucharest (OK, the weather was hot).
It was also insulting to Italy to deny them a place in the 5-nations - their first match was a victory against the then 5-nations champions (Scotland).
Our love should be of our sport, rather than of our local reputation, and sport can bind us into a greater community.

  • 119.
  • At 04:48 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • NEAL TOULSON wrote:

I think all you proponents of an expanding world rugby scene need to take a reality check. I am an Englishman living in Canada, Canada have a national team at the world cup right. You would not know it living here, the team and its results do not get even the slightest mention in the local press here. The first thing that needs to happen throughout these so called minor countries, is a major shift in the profile of the game, a good grassrooots programme and then go from there. Supposedly England has the biggest player base in the world and they cant score a point against South Africa so what chance the minnows of this world. Sorry but Rugby is a minority sport in world terms and will always remains so if it has to compete agianst soccer, NFL and so on.

  • 120.
  • At 04:52 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Post 112, Can you tell us what are one of the Big Rugby schools in NZ?

Yes Big Willie did go to School in NZ and was selected to play for NZ Schools (Why not he was going to School in NZ) Just like a Mr Martin Johnson playing rugby in NZ for a few years and was selected to play for NZ U21's But what you fail to mention is( because you might not know all the facts) With regards to Willie

There is no mechanism under New Zealand's immigration laws that a rugby player could move to New Zealand solely to play rugby. On the contrary, one can find several examples of athletes whose potential to reap sporting honours for New Zealand has held absolutely no sway with New Zealand's immigration authorities. An example would be the Tongan loose forward, Willie Ofahengaue who attended school in New Zealand but was told by New Zealand to go home when he had finished, He played against Australia Schools in Australia but upon coming back into NZ, Immigration said sorry but your Visa had expired and had to go back to Australia.

As for your Cherrypicking idea, check out post 115

  • 121.
  • At 05:12 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Melville wrote:

Matt, interesting comment, but I'm not sure you can justly complain about Welsh, Scots and Irish players born in England, since the UK is actually one country and people move about a lot; there are plenty English people living in Scotland and Wales and Ireland too, just very few of them play rugby and even fewer get looked at by the rather blinkered RFU. That applies also to SA and Namibia which until 93 were all one country. I would suggest though that removing any possibility of residency qualifying a player to play for someone else might be useful though, because it would prevent the big countries taking players from the little countries, and that has to hinder the development of the smaller nations.

  • 122.
  • At 05:15 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Post 112, can you please tell us Who where you say "a lot were picked up on scholarship by one of the Big Rugby Schools in NZ"
Or are you just Generalising, have a Samoan-Tongan-Fijian name can't be from NZ??
Or should we not give people a better education from another country?

Yes Big Willie was selected to play for NZ Schools ( he was in NZ and at School been there since a young age) But what you fail to mention which may be because you didnt know is
there is no mechanism under New Zealand's immigration laws that a rugby player could move to New Zealand solely to play rugby. On the contrary, one can find several examples of athletes whose potential to reap sporting honours for New Zealand has held absolutely no sway with New Zealand's immigration authorities. An example would be the Tongan loose forward, Willie Ofahengaue who attended school in New Zealand but was told by New Zealand to go home when he had finished.

Ofahengaue played for New Zealand Schoolboys in 1988 and participated in a tour to Australia. However, on the return trip, he was refused re-entry to New Zealand with his Tongan passport so he moved to Australia

  • 124.
  • At 05:30 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Tlsmooth wrote:

Surely pressure must be placed on the Tri-Nations to open up the competition to Argentina. There could be a 2nd division competition with plenty of advertising and money thrown in which would incorporate all the minnows in the southern hemisphere.

Again a similar 2nd division could be set up in line with the 6nations. Give the countries more exposure and money and then as the game grows the situation can be revamped.

The sole aim of the IRB should be to make the sport universal and competitive so that we do not continue to get the NZ - Japan scorelines. I would love to see the scenario that in 30 years time, Georgia or Samoa may be in the semis or the final of the world cup.

  • 125.
  • At 06:30 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Royston Jones wrote:

Can't see how it will work; admitting Italy has not improved the quality in the 6N. If anything, the reverse is true. Argentina, one feels, must be accommodated somewhere, but this raises other problems.

Most Argentine players are in Europe because the game back home is still amateur. What happens if Argentina are admitted to the 6N - based in Spain or Euzkadi - then the blazers back in Buenos Aires decide to let the game there go professional?

Such a scenario could result in a number of Argentine players going home. Then Argentina would have its best players scattered around two hemispheres (and different seasons) finding it very difficult to compete in either the 6N or the Tri-Nations.

  • 126.
  • At 06:47 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Glyn Landrey wrote:

When the five nations became six we in the north made a big mistake, we invited Italy to play when at the time it could be argued the Rumania were a stronger site (there is however no doubting the improvement Italy have made).

Never the less at the time we should have made a second division of nations including Italy, Rumania,Portugal,Russia,Canada and even the USA allowing the winner in that season to be promoted to the top division, this would have inspired the teams to progress even more and making the rugby foundation even stronger, but what did we do NOTHING we left the other teams to fend for themselves when truly we had a real oppurtunity.

For a period of time there would have been no relegation of any of the orginal top five, the promoted team being replaced by that seasons winners, however once this system had established itself then a system of true relegation including any of the top five could have been introduced.

On the question of Argentina I feel that it is about time the Tri-nations became four-nations, don't forget that was how we started.

Glyn Landrey

  • 127.
  • At 06:48 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • TommyGunn wrote:


Good pick there. The issue with Willie was that he was a Tongan. Had he been W. Samoan, he most likely would have had a relative born in W. Samoa before 1947 who would have full NZ citizenship.
This helps to explain why there are a lot more players of W. Samoan origin than Fijian or Tongan.

Notable rugby schools in NZ: ooh - Otaga Boys, Sacred Heart, Christchurch Boys and Auckland Grammar off the top of my head.
Most of the guys I met on the tour were on decent sporting scholarships..

Not that I'm complaining, Sonny Parker went to SHC and he has been a decent player for Wales :)

  • 128.
  • At 07:05 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • John Williams wrote:

I love all this talk about new leagues etc. but it is pure "pie in the sky ". The iRB council is in for LIFE. The "top" rugby nations have a stranglehold on rugby. I've been
involved in alleged "open " AGM's with the iRB and
it is impossible to get real change. USA tried years ago
to get the RWC at Disney where it would have been fully funded and would have been truly a spectacle. That was dismissed out of hand. Sorry gents but each and everyone of you should download the constitution of the iRB. After a few minutes reading you will understand that
all of the suggestions, many brilliant, will never be heard
let alone be acted upon unless they involve MONEY for the iRB and more power for the top nations who RUN the show. They can't be voted out!!! It's a joke to expect
serious lesser nation development anytime soon.

  • 129.
  • At 07:11 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • ColPlugwellington wrote:

Smashing idea! Bring in Georgia, Portugal, Romania etc. Put them in the first division. Then England and Ireland could drop down to the second division to play top-class opposition like Liechtenstein, San Marino and the Vatican. If they don't get disgraced against them, EOS, BA and their best-prepared golden-generation squads could entertain notions again that they're serious World Cup contenders.

  • 130.
  • At 07:23 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • matt wrote:

Alan Interesting comment

But can’t have cake and eat it to, Can we? Either the UK is one country or we do way with England Scotland Wales and have one rugby team.
“Since the UK is actually one country and people move about a lot”. Don’t people move about a lot in the Pacific/Australia/New Zealand? In fact haven’t Aussies and Kiwis played for Wales-Ireland-Scotland-England-France in the past 10 yrs?

The UK isn’t actually 1 country is it? England Scotland same thing really? I remember the first time I said that J

The Welsh Scots and Irish players born in England are in fact English Born

But if they do as you say and remove any possibility of Residency qualifying players, then wouldn’t Scotland Wales Ireland and England also be without a lot of their players? (Remember that just because someone is born in 1 country doesn’t mean that their parents weren’t born in another country e.g Dafydd James born in Zambia of Welsh parents, Simon Shaw (Kenya) English Parents, Samoans born in Samoa with NZ Parents. New Zealanders born in NZ with Irish-English-Australian etc parents. So I guess if you do away with residency qualified players that would mean only playing for the country you are born in. (Is that fair?)

And if it were done to prevent the” Big Countries” from taking players from Smaller Nations then as shown NZ would lose 8 players, Samoa would lose 13 players. Is that Fair?

9 Countries will lose 26 NZ Born Players
4 Countries will lose 14 English Born Players
8 Countries will lose 16 South African Born Players

Aren’t these players helping other teams??

  • 131.
  • At 07:34 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Guile wrote:

Being an argentinean or an argie, and after I finished reading all that has been written in this blog, I have a few things to say:
First of all, I'm really gratefull for all the support to the Pumas, in terms of fairness. We have developed our rugby since the World Cup that took place in Wales in 1999. The main reason is all our amateur players went to play for proffesional leagues in Europe. We have a long rugby tradition (If I'm not wrong since the 19 century), but we live the sport from an amateur point of view. We need to transform our home league into a pro league, but our rugby union doesn't want to because they have a traditional point of view. But the real deal is that The Pumas are making profits (and also the union) with the pro rugby style.
In second place, I think as far as we can get now is to play in a 6 nations level. The Tri Nations is a little bit out of our league. Of course, in time we can manage to reach there, but for now, it could be a little difficult in terms of game play. And of course the infrastructure is way much expensive because our players will have to travel a lot. And money is something the Argentinean Rugby Union doesn't have... in fact they were a few seconds of declaring the bankcrupcy a few months ago.
Regards from Buenos Aires.

  • 132.
  • At 07:36 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Robert Lee wrote:

You forgot about Romania. with the article your after writing i cant believe you forgot about romania. romania are the best of the nations cup. do you even look at it? plus, way before portugal come russia and spain. look before you write.

  • 133.
  • At 08:15 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Walsham wrote:

I couldn't agree more. Certainly bring in Georgia and Rumania and by all accounts, Argentina have already said that they could be based in Spain. Not sure about Portugal but look how Italy have developed, particularly against Wales and Scotland! Let's hope it happens within the next 2 yrs and before the next world cup.

  • 134.
  • At 08:40 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Bruno wrote:

Argentina getting in either the tri nations or the sx nations: not gonna happen. We love to think that Rugby is still more a sport than a business but unfortunately, this isn't the case. From the 14 most economically significant games form this WC Argentina will certainly play two of them(france and Ireland). Still the UAR does not receive anything for it.Argentina are a tier one nation but without the benefits for being one.
27 Million pounds divided between the tier one nations except argentina. They receive the same amount as Japan or Canada.
As long as things like this still happen the pumas will only leave their homes for the wc and friendlies.

  • 135.
  • At 09:23 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Just checked out those Big Rugby schools that you claim, “a lot were picked up on scholarships”
And in the last 20yrs I can only find 1 player that went on to play for the All Blacks and that was Charles Riechelmann Of part Tongan ancestry and, in fact, born in those islands, Riechelmann was sought by Tonga for their national side and in particular the 1995 World Cup but declined and made the All Blacks his international priority.

And Andrew Mehrtens South Africa Born with New Zealand parents,went to one of the schools, but none of these so called Scholarship players hmmmmmm

If you have a few names of who got Scholarships and went on to play for NZ

  • 136.
  • At 09:36 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • K.Norman wrote:

Opening the doors to the lessor nations is a must, however in the Southern Hemishpere the distance to be travelled does play an important part of the organisation problems faced. Believe it or not, even though New Zealand is a rugby mad nation, the money generated each year is in miniscule proportions compaired to that in Europe which is the reason why so many players are emigrating to play in the UK or France. My point being it is much easier to accommodate the Pumas etc intothe expanded 6 nations. On a final note, I must agree with Graham Rowntree, the craze of importing more foreign players will like our football condemn us to decades of also rans. Be warned.

  • 137.
  • At 09:44 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Argentina should be playing in a premier tournament but the 6 Nations is the European Championship. If they won it what would they be champions of? The idea they base in Spain is ludicrous. Argenspainia. What about their fans?

Joining the Tri-Nations makes much more sense - the players could make the move to SH clubs in the long run and the IRB could help the domestic game develop in Argentina.

  • 138.
  • At 09:54 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Morgan wrote:


That's not a good idea at all and I've seen the strength of avoiding the horror of that system in North American sports (even though the sports themselves have nothing on rugby). Instead keep everyone on a level basis which encourages all countries to get their acts together.

  • 139.
  • At 09:56 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Anyone that doesn't want these "minnows" in "major" year in-year out competitions is elitist... the end.

  • 140.
  • At 10:00 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ewen wrote:

By all that's right in the world, there should be 2 or 3 divisions in Europe, more involvement for Samoa, Fiji & Tonga in the southern hemisphere. Argentina, Canada and USA should be in one or other of these competitions

But none of it will happen. Not as long as it doesn't suit the blazers from the 'big' nations.

In 4 years time nothing much will have changed, except, MAYBE, Argentina will be playing 'home' matches in front of a stadium full of 'visiting' fans in Madrid.

England will go to the RWC thinking they are going to win it and New Zealand will be trawling the islands to find players. We may even find another Tuigamala. Samoan for 1 RWC. An All Black for the next, before becoming Samoan again for one final fling.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss

  • 141.
  • At 10:31 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • holden wrote:

I think all the top 9 major teams should play each other once in one year with a world 15 as team 10 comprising of all the other nations . the top 2 teams after the round robin could play each other in a final .

  • 142.
  • At 10:36 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Why not use cricket's example, where Scotland and Ireland compete in the English county game? The developing European rugby nations' international teams could compete in either the French or English leagues, or in the European cups.

There doesn't seem to be a problem for the Scotland and Ireland cricket teams to play at county level and also enter the international tournaments, and also have a national cricket league running at the same time.

  • 143.
  • At 11:20 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Steve Bradshaw wrote:

Agree entirely!

The only word that I would change in the article is

'protectionist' to 'elitist'.

  • 144.
  • At 11:48 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • jerome wrote:

I completely agree with the opening of the 6 nations tournament

why not a real european cup of nations every 4 years with 10 teams and qualifying matches

  • 145.
  • At 02:09 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • A kiwi wrote:

good idea I totally agree

  • 146.
  • At 04:03 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • AndyH wrote:

Having lived in NZ for 5 years I can see where the ideas of "robbing" the best of PI players comes from. In most cases, the players have been here since childhood or are born here. If you look at the Samoan side they have 12 or so NZ residents in their team, who regurlarly play NZ Cup and Super 14!! Not forgetting that Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and has a huge mix of PI and European migrants, so they have the right.

About the 3N and 6N being extended. Absolutely!! The 2nd Div with relagation/promotion would work to develop teams but the whole domestic/international window needs to be addressed.

Go Scotland and the AB's.

  • 147.
  • At 08:17 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • MarkM wrote:

Excellent RWC so far that will only get better, but if the European nations are to succeed then we need our own competition. Why not have a European tournament with two leagues; three of the ceeded teams Eng, Sco, Wal, Ire, Fra and Ita in each league and the other nations Por, Rom, Geo, Rus and possibly Arg (but I think they should develop the professional game back home) making up the rest of the league. The top four teams then play in a play off for the championship, i.e. League 1 Top plays fourth in league 2, L2 2nd plays 3rd in L1 etc. A few more games I know but would allow more squad players time in International rugby...assuming the clubs agree to release their players that is. Enjoy the rest of the RWC!

  • 148.
  • At 08:18 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

I'm not sure why elitist is being thrown around like a perjorative, sport at the top level should be elitist. The question is how do we go about extending those teams capable of joining the elite.

  • 149.
  • At 11:46 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Jack wrote:

I can see just about everyones points in response to these posts, and yes, it does all come back to money, and yes, there is a degree of protectionism, and yes players play too many games already, and yes, we need to develop other nations, and yes, Argentina MUST be involved in top flight competition.

Rather than argue these points, I really like a couple of the suggestions on this post - borrow from other sports the things that work well. Every 4 years why not run the rugby equivelent of the european championship. That would be superb. There are enough good teams to make that a worthwhile event. True it might be dominated for the first few years by 6Nations teams - but imagine the quarter final, semi final and final battles - would be terrific.

I also liker the idea of so-called "lesser-nations" playing at pro-club level tournaments like Ireland and Scotland in the county cricket championships. There is no substitute for good week-in/week-out club level competition. Look at Irelands success in the worlkd cup and Scotlands valient efforts in scaring Pakistan in the 20/20. It could really improve the standard of Romanian, and gerogian teams as well as improving OUR pro teams by giving them good hard games of rugby.

  • 150.
  • At 01:21 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • JOHN wrote:

The case for expanding the competitions in order to see rugby develop as a true world sport is overwhelming. However, some consideration needs also to be given to why:
1. protectionism in the northern hemishere appears to retard the technical development of the game.
2. while in the southern hemisphere it advances it.

  • 151.
  • At 01:35 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Geoff Winn wrote:

Several people have mentioned that meaningful change is impossible because of vested interests in the IRB. I'm not familiar with the politics there, so I'll believe you. However, I think that some real world facts may soon help out.

In this RWC, Pool D is being called the "group of death", but in the next one it will likely be even worse. There is already a possibility that Wales might lose to Fiji, or Scotland to Italy - and thus miss the quarter finals. Either France or Ireland are already likely to do so. With Argentina ranked so highly we will increasingly see pairs of 6N sides competing for one quarter final spot. (Imagine RWC 2011 Pools containing SA, France & England or NZ, Argentina and Ireland.) Maybe then the 6N sides, at least, will recognise that they need to _do_ something to raise their standards. Otherwise they will have to accept that in perpetuity the RWC pool stage will result in 4 SH sides topping the tables and at least two 6N sides not even making the quarter finals - and that's assuming the likes of Fiji, Samoa or even Georgia don't make it even worse.

  • 152.
  • At 01:56 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • JOHN wrote:

The case for expanding the competitions in order to see rugby develop as a true world sport is overwhelming. However, some consideration needs also to be given to why:
1. protectionism in the northern hemishere appears to retard the technical development of the game.
2. while in the southern hemisphere it advances it.

  • 153.
  • At 04:09 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Polemic wrote:

JOHN (2007). You talk a nonsense.

It is the Southern hemisphere which inhibits the expansion of the game. Why did they veto Japan's bid for the next, World Cup? Instead, it was awarded to New Zealand who will no doubt want Australia to host some of the games.(Didn't they host the last World Cup).
Why do they strip the Pacific Islands of their players by offering them cash incentives to play for the Tri-Nation countries.
Wouldn't the money be better spent developing Pacific island rugby.

Of course, if the game is going to expand then it is in need of a complete overhaul. But knowing the politics of rugby and the money involved, I doubt that his will be forthcoming from the IRB.

My ideas are more radical. Europe should set up its own Rugby Union and be allowed to organize competitions meaningful to the emerging nations. The Americas could do the same. Africa have more nations playing rugby than most realize and the Middle and Far East also have enough nations playing rugby to warrant a Union. (I know, I've played out there).
The Tri-Nations could welcome the Pacific Islands into their fold - it aint rocket science.

All we need now is for the NH referees and the SH referees to sing from the same hymn sheet and we have a product we can sell to the World.

Will it ever happen? I doubt it. Whenever a NH country threatens to win the World Cup (and England had the temerity to do so last time out) the SH nations get together and force through changes to the laws to advantage themselves. (The line out is but one example). You should see the changes they have in mind at the end of this World Cup!...Most of them are crack pot and do little to enhance the game.

Much as I embrace your ideas John Beattie I doubt the IRB will let it happen. They don't want other Unions with their hands in the cookie jar.

  • 154.
  • At 01:01 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

I can accept arguments for new members of the tri nations and six nations championships. However, Argentina's natural home is surely in the southern hemisphere tournament, not in the northern one.

  • 155.
  • At 01:17 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

I can accept arguments for new members of the tri nations and six nations championships. However, Argentina's natural home is surely in the southern hemisphere tournament, not in the northern one.

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