Editorials - February 2019

February 28 2019

BCRN 2019

Thoughts on the World League / Nations Championship Proposal: Depends on the Details

The rugby world is all aquiver about the latest article (link below) from New Zealand on the "World League" as it has been dubbed in the press. Interesting that social media comments (posted below) from World Rugby supremo, Brett Gosper, refer to it as the Nations Championship. Whatever label is attached to it, it seems to be a work in progress. When the concept first emerged in the press it was presented as a top 12 competition and the assumption was that it would include the Top 12 ranked teams which at the present are: NZ, Ireland, Wales, England, SA, OZ, Scotland, France, Fiji, Argentina, Japan, Georgia... with USA lingering at #13. Throw in a relegation/promotion process for the rest of the countries and it seemed like a good starting point for discussion.

However the latest iteration to hit the press has USA and Japan hard-wired in as would the 6 Nations and Rugby Championship countries. Also no relegation/promotion mechanism has been proposed. Those two points are game changers, it went from a "worth discussing" to "going the wrong way, as Kieran Read said, protect the game's integrity". Giving Fiji the heave-ho just because they're not wealthy and bringing in USA because it's the land of plenty doesn't sit well with rugby folk, it may excite businessmen calculating net profits but is that what rugby has become? Besides USA are #13, they have MLR going their way, hang the carrot there and they'll figure it out. The excitement of a Tier 2 promotion process would engage teams ranked 13-24 and their fans.

There are other concerns as expressed in the articles below including player load, long haul travel, club v country demands and Regulation 9 release periods.

All Blacks: World rugby set for biggest change in modern history with 12-team World League

All Blacks captain Kieran Read's World League warning: 'We need to protect the game's integrity'

What about from a Canadian perspective? The main concern seems to be no matches vs Tier 1 countries if this goes through, not until Canada can get into the top 12 at least. Looking at the last World Cup cycle Canada haven't been getting a whole lot of invites from Tier 1 countries, in 2016 they played Ireland, they also had matches with Italy and Japan. In 2017 there weren't any Tier 1 matches as the RWC qualification began and Canada played USA three times, Canada played 11 tests that year and came away with 2 wins, 1 draw and 8 losses. In 2018 Scotland came to visit, Canada again had 11 test matches, winning 5 and losing 6, the wins coming against Brazil, Chile, Germany, Kenya and Hong Kong. In 2019 Canada have lost to Brazil and Uruguay and defeated Chile. That's the point, start building a winning record against Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries before demanding Tier 1 matches every year. I would be more concerned with building the infrastructure to produce a top 12 team rather than be concerned whether Canada gets to play a 6 Nations team every year.

Fifteen years ago we were well ahead of our neighbours to the south in rugby infrastructure and development, we had the beginnings of a professional league with the Rugby Canada Super League with teams in 10 cities. We had a centralized U23 academy, the Pacific Pride, that could defeat national teams like Germany and Chile. Now our biggest boast is we have one team in the MLR. Fifteen years ago Canada were ranked #13 and would have been looking eagerly at a top 12 competition, let's focus on what needs to be done to get back there.

Canada 33 17 Uruguay Americas Rugby Championship Langford 6 Feb 2016
USA 30 22 Canada Americas Rugby Championship TX 13 Feb 2016
Canada 52 25 Brazil Americas Rugby Championship Langford 20 Feb 2016
Chile 13 64 Canada Americas Rugby Championship Santiago 5 Mar 2016
Canada 22 26 Japan Japan tour Vancouver 11 Jun 2016
Canada 46 21 Russia Russia tour Calgary 18 Jun 2016
Canada 18 20 Italy Italy tour Toronto 26 Jun 2016
Ireland 52 21 Canada Canada tour Lansdowne Road 12 Nov 2016
Romania 21 16 Canada Canada tour Bucharest 19 Nov 2016
Canada 23 25 Samoa Canada tour / Samoa tour Grenoble 25 Nov 2016

Canada 36 15 Chile Americas Rugby Championship Langford 11 Feb 2017
Canada 34 51 USA Americas Rugby Championship Vancouver 18 Feb 2017
Uruguay 17 13 Canada Americas Rugby Championship Punte de l'Este 25 Feb 2017
Brazil 24 23 Canada Americas Rugby Championship Pacaembu 3 Mar 2017
Canada 0 13 Georgia Georgia tour Calgary 10 Jun 2017
Canada 9 25 Romania Romania tour Edmonton 17 Jun 2017
Canada 28 28 USA 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier ONT 24 Jun 2017
USA 52 16 Canada 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier San Diego 1 Jul 2017
Georgia 54 22 Canada Canada tour Tbilisi 11 Nov 2017
Spain 27 37 Canada Canada tour Madrid 18 Nov 2017
Canada 17 57 Fiji Fiji tour / Canada tour Narbonne 25 Nov 2017

Canada 29 38 Uruguay 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier / Americas Rugby Championship Vancouver 27 Jan 2018
Uruguay 32 31 Canada 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier Montevideo 3 Feb 2018
USA 29 10 Canada Americas Rugby Championship Sacramento 10 Feb 2018
Brazil 5 45 Canada Americas Rugby Championship Fullerton 17 Feb 2018
Chile 17 33 Canada Americas Rugby Championship La Serena 3 Mar 2018
Canada 10 48 Scotland Scotland tour Edmonton 9 Jun 2018
Canada 20 43 Russia Russia tour Nepean 16 Jun 2018
Canada 17 42 USA United States of America tour NS 23 Jun 2018
Canada 65 19 Kenya 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier Marseille 11 Nov 2018
Canada 29 10 Germany 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier Marseille 17 Nov 2018
Canada 27 10 Hong Kong 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier Marseille 23 Nov 2018

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