It may sound a ridiculous idea, but could the Six Nations benefit by reverting back to consisting of just four nations each year?
As preposterous as it sounds, could a return to having just the four home nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) duking it out benefit not only the competition, but the wider rugby community?
The idea would be that all four nations compete each year, both home and away, thereby removing the impact of home advantage in the Six Nations when teams only play each other once. This would ensure that teams aren’t given an easier ride like at present where their only away games are against the traditionally weaker sides in the tournament.
The extra game would help generate more revenue, whilst it could easily be accommodated by removing one of the current ‘rest weeks’ that so abruptly disrupt the Six Nations as it stands. It would also ensure that each nation is guaranteed three home games each year rather than every other year to help increase ticket sales and therefore revenue for each union.
Given that the key rivalries are primarily between the home nations anyway, the interest in the competition is guaranteed to remain, whilst the shorter journeys are likely to ensure more travelling support at each game. It may also help avoid issues when Italy travel to the likes of Scotland where there is limited travelling support, and Murrayfield is below capacity.
The move would also create an opportunity for the likes of Georgia and Romania who could look to establish their own version of the Six Nations with France and Italy. This ensures that all current Six Nations sides are guaranteed regular international competition during the winter months, whilst also providing a platform for emerging Tier 2 nations to play top flight rugby on a more regular basis.