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  • How to improve the RWC Format

    A lot of talk has been going on about the format of the Rugby World Cup, and the disadvantages it's format and structure has to both tier one and tier two nations.

    1) New Zealand Rugby has this week stated about how much revenue they lose in a RWC year, and because of this they may not be able to enter the 2015 tournament, Australia have backed New Zealand's stance and RugbyRefs.com expects England to back it too after rumours that they had budgeted for an eleven million pound deficit this year.

    2) The lower nations have also had gripes, mainly about the turnaround times for them as they are used to pack out the midweek games, giving them less chance to recover and be the real challenge that they all seem to have been in their first games.

    3) There is also the issue of releasing players for national teams to use on international duty.

    4) Lastly there has been a number of calls to split the competition into a two tier event, instead of mixing it together like they do at present.


    Well, RugbyRefs.com believes it has solutions to most of these, they may be simplistic, but surely all the best solutions are? Remove the politics, and it's very plain to see.

    1) The iRB will argue that this is their only revenue earner, but it makes no sense for any team to be out of pocket competing in the worlds biggest Rugby Union tournament. The iRB must ensure that it is both profitable for the lower nations, and at least break even for the top tier nations. There are ways to do this without breaking their profits too much, most involve the sponsors of the team, let them be placed all over the hotels and shirts, if the team wants, this will help all.
    However the top tier nations need to not lose sight of the fact that the RWC is more than just about the 6 weeks of play, the effect it has on community rugby in all participating countries is huge, rugby clubs will swell this year with people coming back to play, coach, referee or just watch the game. The home nations will benefit from this as well, as tomorrows stars come from todays children.

    2) The turnaround times have been very cruel to the the tier two nations, a tournament that schedules games only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday could easily be organised and therefore all teams have 5 to 7 days recovery every week. By making the groups have an even number of teams, this would work very well.

    3) The releasing of international players should be standardised for all countries, to release players for some and not others is to discriminate against the importance of that nations rugby. If the game wants to grow, the playing field must be level.

    4) We feel the tournament would not gain from such a split, the ability of the tier two nations to get close to the tier one nations has been more obvious than ever in this RWC.

    RugbyRefs.com feels the iRB could improve it though by creating a bowl competition after the group stages. The top two teams would go into the RWC Knockouts, the 3rd & 4th placed team would go into the bowl competition, they could run concurrently. The bowl bronze game could be played before the RWC bronze game, and the bowl final played in the evening of the same day, leaving the last day to be all about the RWC final.

    We at RugbyRefs.com think that this would be an excellent format, if you use this years pools as an indication, you could see teams such as Italy, Scotland, Canada, USA, Georgia all competing in the bowl tournament, these games would be close and exciting. A win/win for the supporters and the iRB.

    So what do you think?
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      We at RugbyRefs.com think that this would be an excellent format, While this may indeed be true, on whose behalf are you talking when you say "We at RugbyRefs.com"?
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      The majority.
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      The majority.
      did we vote?
    1. DrSTU's Avatar
      DrSTU -
      I like the idea of a bowl contest. The teams are there already and might not get a chance to play other quality sides in the near future.
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Regarding turnaround times - I wonder how this would have all looked if Christchurch had been available?
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
      Regarding turnaround times - I wonder how this would have all looked if Christchurch had been available?
      No different.

      There is no escaping the fact that with five teams (an odd number) in each pool, only four teams in each pool can play on any given weekend, and one team in each pool has a bye. Either you have a bye round for each team in each pool every weekend, and therefore extend the length of the pool stages by one week, or some teams have to play mid-week to catch up.

      The only way around this is four or six team pools, so 16 or 24 teams in the RWC, or if you want to keep 20 teams, then five pools of four (shades of 1999 RWC)
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
      did we vote?
      I, for one, welcome our new rugbyrefs.com overlords.
    1. geoffcross's Avatar
      geoffcross -
      I think the IRB can learn alot from what FIFA do and do well.1. make clubs release their international players as required (not just the rwc)2. have international weekends (applying for both the northern and southern hemisphere competitions).The big problem with the bowl competition is the cost, as long as it doesnt price the fans out it would be a great concept.Finally force the tier one nations to better support other nations. I cannot remember the Wallabies going to play Namibia for example. Force them to go their to spread the rugby word! The problem will be (as always) who will pay...
    1. 4eyesbetter's Avatar
      4eyesbetter -
      Here is what would make me more likely to watch more of the competition.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1YmS_VDvMY

      Wasting time with a whole month of matches, of which only an extremely small minority will actually matter for qualification for the interesting bit, is never going to appeal to anyone who isn't already a reasonably dedicated fan. That's the true strength of FIFA's competition; you've got 32 teams, most of them have some hope of qualifying for the next stage, and there's very rarely a group that you can look at and say "they're definitely through and they're definitely out", so a large proportion of the group matches actually generate some interest.

      Now, maybe this is an acceptable tradeoff for the benefits gained by giving the minor nations guaranteed matches against the big boys. In that case, how about hiving the pool phase off from the knockouts and playing them seperately? You could play the pool phase months before the knockouts (or perhaps in two 2-week phases?) in relative anonymity and then hit hard with a major publicity blitz for the bit people are actually going to be interested in, rather than tying the millstone of the pool phase round its neck...
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      Pool stages work well for the RWC in my opinion.

      The fans are already there because they are watching their team, by adding the bowl competition you add in an extra dimension to the game.

      The bowl knockout would be just as exciting as the main cup, with teams now matched against others who did equally well in their group.

      if we went with how the group stages ended you would have the following games:

      Tonga v Georgia
      Scotland v Canada
      Italy v Fiji
      Samoa v USA

      Although you can say Tonga, Scotland, Italy & Samoa should win, you would not stake too much money on it,

      Then having a possible semi of:

      Tonga v Scotland (Tonga beat France, but Scotland higher ranked...very tough).
      Italy v Samoa (Italy beat France this year, Samoa beat Australia and gave South Africa a run for their money).

      It all points at more great rugby, without having to adjust the current format very much.

      80% of Fans stay around longer, buy beer, stay in hotels, buy merchandise. Instead of now where 60% of fans go home.
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Here is the introductory bit of the RFU's proposal for 2007. They worked out all the details and I found it pretty impressive, but it was too innovative for the IRB alickadoos.
      The Alternative Tender

      Two top sporting events that capture the imagination of audiences worldwide are the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. The key to their success is scale.
      Our vision for the structure and format of the RWC 2007 will give it a scale to challenge the Olympics and the
      FIFA World Cup as sporting spectacles.
      Building upon the success of previous RWCs, we also want to create an event of such impact that it makes a significant difference to the development of the sport and fulfils the mission of the IRB 'to promote, foster, develop, extend and govern the Game'.
      So what are we suggesting?
      An 88-match Event that is divided into two tournaments: the RWC and the RWNC. The two tournaments will be inter-linked and will be played over a 45-day period, commencing on a Friday and concluding on a Sunday.

      We are proposing three major innovations:
      • a revised second phase for the RWC Knockout rounds to include a Super 8 stage that will replace the traditional quarter-finals
      • a reduction in the number of teams in the RWC from 20 to 16
      • the introduction of a second tournament, the RWNC for a further 20 teams to run in parallel with the main competition.
      These innovations will bring commercial, developmental and competitive benefits.

      Commercial Benefits
      We believe our Preferred Option will deliver a number of substantial commercial benefits to the IRB and the world game:
      • more matches between the seeded sides in the RWC will increase television audiences to the benefit of broadcasters and sponsors
      • the delivery of an additional 40 matches to the existing format will increase market size and enhance the value of the property to sponsors
      • more countries means more markets for broadcast rights sales
      • the costs of running the RWNC will be covered by the increased surplus from the overall Event. Neither the participating nations nor the IRB will be asked to make a financial contribution
      • substantially enhanced income streams for RWC Ltd and the IRB
      • the potential of a significant reduction in the IRB's costs to fund the running of qualifying competitions for 2007 and 2011.
      Developmental Benefits
      We are confident that our Preferred Option will deliver some key benefits for the development of the global game:
      • increased international involvement to 36 teams will provide an additional 16 participating nations compared to the Traditional Tender
      • coaching and officiating development opportunities for countries in the RWNC through exchanging ideas, improved training methods and sharing best practice
      • the encouragement of greater international Volunteer participation to help improve and develop the administration of the game worldwide
      • the proposed linking of the two Tournaments provides a competitive pathway for teams from developing Unions.
      Competitive Benefits
      We believe our Preferred Option will deliver a number of competitive benefits for players, spectators, broadcasters and commercial partners:
      • to win the Tournament, the champion nation will have to have played five of the top eight seeded teams which is not the case with the Traditional Tender
      • the quality of the competition will be improved by minimising non-competitive matches through the reduction in the number of teams in the RWC
      • with eight Super 8 matches there will be an additional four high quality matches compared to the quarter-final stage in the Traditional Tender.
      In the following sections we detail how the two tournaments will be structured.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      I think the RFU proposal for a two tier competing involving a 16 team main and a 20 team secondary competition is simply infeasible. but a bowl competition would retain interest and provide a second level of competition, but one which was integrated on
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      I think the RFU proposal for a two tier competing involving a 16 team main and a 20 team secondary competition is simply infeasible.
      That original application went into a lot of detail explaining just how it would all work. It looked highly feasible to me.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      It's got merit, but the main competition must allow all teams a chance, the second tournament should be a split from the knock out stages. IMHO.

      Otherwise you won't get games like Tonga France, Georgia Scotland, etc...
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      It's got merit, but the main competition must allow all teams a chance, the second tournament should be a split from the knock out stages. IMHO.

      Otherwise you won't get games like Tonga France, Georgia Scotland, etc...
      Does that mean the top 8 teams would ineligible for plate, bowl, saucer, etc?

      I'd stick with current format. In the 7s it gets too confusing & valueless having a lot of minor prizes.
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
      Does that mean the top 8 teams would ineligible for plate, bowl, saucer, etc?

      I'd stick with current format. In the 7s it gets too confusing & valueless having a lot of minor prizes.

      Actually, those games in Sevens are not valueless at all. They allow teams not in the cup round to still accumulate table points.

      As an aside, tickets to the Wellington leg of the 2012 IRB Sevens went on sale at 09:00 on Tuesday.

      By 09:03, all 39,000 were gooooone!!!.

      A mate of mine at Ticketmaster tells me it was 162 seconds, beating last year's record of 210 seconds.
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Quote Originally Posted by OB.. View Post
      Here is the introductory bit of the RFU's proposal for 2007. They worked out all the details and I found it pretty impressive, but it was too innovative for the IRB alickadoos.
      The Alternative Tender.........In the following sections we detail how the two tournaments will be structured.
      Well?
    1. 4eyesbetter's Avatar
      4eyesbetter -
      a Super 8 stage that will replace the traditional quarter-finals
      Only just noticed this! Dear sweet mother of Mary and Joseph no! That's literally the worst possible thing you can do. That's why the cricket World Cup suffers so badly and never gets any momentum going; you spend a month playing meaningless games with nothing on the line, then you advance to the next stage with shouts and great action...in which you play more games where nothing's on the line! They claim to be learning lessons from FIFA but this is absolutely and totally dead wrong. You have to have immediate consequences after a month of not very much happening. You simply have to. That idea is not about improving anything other than the next attempt to screw money out of sponsors and TV companies, and they even admit it:

      with eight Super 8 matches there will be an additional four high quality matches compared to the quarter-final stage
      The simple fact remains; knockout matches good, pool matches bad. All knockout matches have simple, basic, inherent drama that even the most thrilling pool match lacks.
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian_Cook View Post
      Actually, those games in Sevens are not valueless at all. They allow teams not in the cup round to still accumulate table points.

      As an aside, tickets to the Wellington leg of the 2012 IRB Sevens went on sale at 09:00 on Tuesday.

      By 09:03, all 39,000 were gooooone!!!.

      A mate of mine at Ticketmaster tells me it was 162 seconds, beating last year's record of 210 seconds.
      Fair call re. table points. I was thinking more of the spectacle

      Here's me at last year's Wellington 7s

      Attachment 1767
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      speaking of Wellington 7s. Maybe this year we should have had it the week immediately after the WC to capitalise on all the visitors in NZ.

      I wonder if many visitors will go straight from NZ to the Gold Coast (there's 5 weeks between events).
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