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