Not enough is be­ing done to grow the game glob­ally, ar­gues RW reader Rob Minto

Rugby World - - FRONT ROW -

UGBY TURNED pro­fes­sional more than 20 years ago and, al­though the game has changed in many ways over that time, World Rugby has failed to turn it into a world­wide sport.

The re­al­is­tic World Cup con­tenders in 2019 will be the same teams as in 1995. The game’s author­i­ties have been happy to al­low the sport to de­velop by mak­ing small law changes, rather than hav­ing a long-term plan to grow the game in ma­jor ar­eas of the world where rugby is not played or has lim­ited pen­e­tra­tion.

How can the sport ig­nore the po­ten­tial in coun­tries such as the USA, In­dia and China, not only in play­ing num­bers but also as a market for the com­mer­cial as­pects of the sport? We should not be look­ing at short-term plans but have a big­ger long-term project, with an aim to have a cur­rent non-play­ing na­tion as a real con­tender at RWC 2039.

Change won’t be easy but new mar­kets will pro­vide a stronger fi­nan­cial fu­ture for the game, rather than the risk of be­com­ing stale with the same few coun­tries al­ways at the top of the sport.

We need to fi­nally tackle the na­tion­al­ity is­sue head on. Play­ers should only be al­lowed to play for one coun­try through­out their ca­reer, that of their own or their par­ents’ birth, fi­nally re­mov­ing the abused res­i­dency reg­u­la­tions. This will very quickly cre­ate

R“The game risks be­com­ing

stale with the same few coun­tries al­ways at the top”

a stronger na­tional iden­tity by re­mov­ing any choice of which na­tion to rep­re­sent.

A full de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme needs to be set up, ex­pand­ing on Sara­cens’ lead with Timisoara by ar­rang­ing a ‘buddy’ net­work where clubs from Tier One na­tions pro­vide coach­ing and de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance to clubs in less ad­vanced rugby-play­ing coun­tries.

We need to en­sure that the game is mar­keted cor­rectly to max­imise its im­pact in at­tract­ing new play­ers in non-tra­di­tional rugby ar­eas by en­sur­ing that laws are de­vel­oped to en­cour­age young­sters to want to play by show­ing a safe and ex­cit­ing game.

To­day World Rugby stands on a precipice. We can only hope that they have the courage to take the lead and make the game be­come truly world­wide rather than let it stag­nate in­side the safety of its his­tor­i­cal net­work of rugby-play­ing na­tions. What gets your goat? Let us know on Face­book or tweet @rug­by­world­mag

Emerg­ing market Chil­dren in In­dia are in­tro­duced to rugby

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