World Rugby say they are prepared to be flexible on the format of the proposed Nations Championship following opposition from clubs, unions and players.
In a meeting set to take place in Dublin on Thursday, representatives from all tier-one nations, as well as Fiji, Japan and International Rugby Players to discuss the proposed plans.
However, even if removing the semi-final stage of the proposed tournament is agreed on Thursday, the ‘World League’ in its current form will ruin rugby for a number of reasons.
Player Welfare Will Be Compromised
Teams may potentially play five high-level Test matches in consecutive weeks in November, which has faced criticism from many high-level players, including Ireland’s Jonny Sexton.
The current World Rugby player of the year says that World Rugby are showing ‘little understanding’ for players welfare.
“The issue of player load has never been so topical. However, it needs to be properly understood.
“To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level Test matches in consecutive weeks in November is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings.”
And Sexton is right, top-level players will go into the window, after playing for their clubs, who pay them large amounts of money, in the league and in European games.
Playing week in, week out for their club, and then going into a gruelling international window will only lead to more wear and tear injuries, as well as early retirements.
Hindering development in Tier-2 Nations
The World League plans show that the 12-team competition would include those who compete in the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, as well as Japan and USA.
This would be okay for the first year of the tournament, providing promotion and relegation was in place, and teams not in the original 12 would be able to be promoted to provide competition.
However, despite World Rugby distancing themselves from the idea that the ‘World League’ will not include promotion and relegation, Georgia head coach Milton Haig says they’ve received no encouragement or assurances over their future.
“I know our president hasn’t been involved in those talks. You would hope when they look at this expansion, it is for the good of all and not a certain few,” he said.
If World Rugby decide to ‘ring-fence’ the competition, the hopes of emerging nations like Georgia, Russia and Romania in Europe and Pacific Island nations like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga facing top nations would effectively be ended.
The development in these countries would be stunted, with the nations not having the incentive to improve.
The increased commercialisation
The ‘World League’ would massively increase the commercial value of the sport, with USA entering the fray.
Some would argue that this is vital for the development of the sport, as more money would be made from the ‘World League’ games.
However, the increased commercialisation would mean that the higher powers of the sport would neglect the wishes of the players and the fans, as they have the desire to increase revenue not only for themselves, but for some nations that have struggled financially.
So is the sport destined to be ruined?
The ‘World League’ has the potential to aid the sport, develop Tier-2 nations and not decrease player welfare.
However, in the current proposed format, there are many disadvantages to the competition that will majorly affect the sport.
So World Rugby, it’s all down to you.
Written by Sam Bytheway