World Rugby doing a fine job of killing world rugby

Garrin Lambley (File)
Garrin Lambley (File)

Cape Town - Sucks to be a Pacific Island player - or supporter - this morning.

This after World Rugby signed their death warrant in giving their backing to a 12-team 'World League' comprising the six Six Nations sides, the four Rugby Championship nations and the USA and Japan.

Despite their current ninth world ranking, there's no room for Fiji, nor their fellow islanders Samoa and Tonga.

The concept is basically an admission that cash is king and trumps everything in rugby and is the real reason the foreigner-laden Japan and the 13th-ranked USA have been given the nod thanks to their commercial clout.

The deal is thought to be for between 10 to 12 years, and, crucially, with no promotion or relegation it effectively condemns the islands to the rugby wilderness for the next decade. Or longer.

The World League proposal has been driven by World Rugby CEO's "Mr Hair", Brett Gosper, and vice-chairperson, former Argentina scrumhalf Agustin Pichot who has contributed little besides scandal since succeeding Oregan Hoskins in the hot-seat.

If reports are to be believed, each of the 12 competing nations will receive between R95-133 million per season in broadcast money.

How the tournament will work is also never going to be fair.

An even number of teams (12) playing an odd number of matches (11) means some will have more home matches than others.

In June of each year, the Six Nations teams will all travel south to play three Tests in either Argentina, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

The Rugby Championship as we currently know it, will now include the USA and Japan, and will kick off in August and will feature a single round of (five) matches per team.

Conceivably the Springboks could therefore play the USA and Japan at home, and the Pumas, Wallabies and All Blacks away. Regardless, it would ensure the All Blacks for example would only be seen on these shores every two years, rather than annually as is currently the case.

The World League will then be completed by the four southern hemisphere sides travelling north in November to play the three northern hemisphere teams they didn't play in June.

The top four teams on the table will then play a semi-final and final - in the northern hemisphere regardless of who qualifies - potentially at a neutral venue like the Nou Camp in Barcelona or Soldier Field in Chicago.

Got it?

It would mean a minimum of 11 Tests per team per year, with a maximum of 13 for those sides reaching the final.

Predictably, the All Blacks were quick to highlight their desire to continue with their Bledisloe Cup series against the Wallabies, adding one - possibly two - extra Tests to their overall total.

Immediate thoughts, in no particular are:

- Should the tournament get the official thumbs-up, the Rugby World Cup will lose all relevance as the World League basically represents a mini-World Cup every year, while British & Irish Lions tours will have no place in the calendar.

- The All Blacks could top the log and 'host' England at Twickenham. An advantage? No.

- More air miles for everyone! Long-haul flights will increase significantly, making life in an aeroplane home away from home for the southern hemisphere Super Rugby and Test players in particular.

- Even greater friction than currently the case between countries and clubs who have players already on their books long-term.

Go back to the drawing board, World Rugby. This concept requires more thought.

Garrin Lambley is a very frustrated rugby fan and Editor of Sport24 for his sins...

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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