The World Cup is an event every sporting fan waits in anticipation to take place every four years either in rugby or football. World Cups don’t come around very often and players get rare opportunities on the grandest stage of them all. It only happens twice a decade which adds to the spectacle and the prestige of the competition as it’s a rare occasion that most international players only get once or twice in their career, three if they’re really really fortunate.

An Annual Elongated World Cup

It’s a special and unique competition that holds the highest value in World Rugby but the announced plans of a 12 team World League puts the meaning of the World Cup in jeopardy. The league would consist of the Six Nations team, Rugby Championship along with Japan and USA. Each team would compete against each other in their respective championships and then they would play the remaining teams in July and November when the Summer and Autumn internationals would have taken place. The top four teams would qualify for the semi-finals and a final would be played in December. It would basically be an annual elongated World Cup for the more powerful nations.

What’s The Point in a World Cup?
If these plans go ahead for a World League it will have severe consequences on the World Cup . The Webb Ellis trophy will become de-valued and the competition will lose its appeal straight away. The new format is a blue-print for domination by the power nations to have an elitist competition every year and broaden the gap between tier 1 and tier 2 nations. Truthfully, 8 out of 12 of these teams will be extremely likely to make the last eight in the World Cup anyway so this will bridge the gap. Ireland or England might only get the opportunity to play New Zealand once or twice in a four-year cycle which makes it so much more exciting and worthwhile when these contests come around. They play for pride and World ranking points, but the World Cup would be the only period where Southern and Northern hemisphere teams would meet for a serious championship, which is was makes the competition so special, if the world league is introduced I think the original idea of a World cup will become pointless.

No Surprises at World Cups Anymore
At every World Cup there is always a team that surprises us and exceeds are expectations. In 2015 it was Japan as they managed to get victories over USA, Samoa, and most historically over South Africa, they were very unfortunate to not make the final eight as they lost to Scotland. They of course are planned to be a part of the World League, along with USA and Italy they’ll be expected to be the whipping boys . In 2011, Tonga beat France 19-13 in the group stages, although France did finish runners up that year. In 2007, another pacific Island impressed as Fiji beat Wales and they managed to qualify for the quarter-final stages where they were knockout by eventual winners South Africa. Similarly, that year Georgia made a statement by putting it up to Ireland in the group stage. These are all underdog scenarios that caught the imagination of the individual World Cup, but it could be argued that the introduction of the World League will make it less possible for the lesser teams to pull off these surprising victories. Japan, USA, Italy, and the three pacific islands Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are all relatively close in standard, although the World League would leave the Pacific Islanders behind and it won’t help the progression of Rugby on the Islands.

The World League is a capitalist money racquet by World Rugby. The World Cup which has been part of the game for 32 years will completely lose its relevance and it would be pointless to have every four years. It’s the holy grail of Rugby and its legacy should be protected not ruined.


Written By Ciaron Noble

Image World.Rugby