The Rugby World Cup trophy. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/AFP via Rugby
The Rugby World Cup trophy. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/AFP via Rugby

World Rugby keep your hands off Webb Ellis trophy

By Morgan Bolton Time of article published Sep 17, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - World Rugby certainly know how to induce moments of exasperated eye-rolling and perplexed thousand yard stares.

This past week, after Fifa revealed they are considering holding the World Cup every two years, the international administration of the game, through CEO Alan Gilpin jumped on the bandwagon as well, stating in an interview with the UK’s Telegraph that it was an “interesting concept”.

There is absolutely no reason to change the current four-year cycle between Rugby World Cups. The game’s premier tournament should remain sacrosanct, and its integrity should be upheld at all costs. Holding the William Webb Ellis trophy aloft every four years is something special and even considering a move to a biennial tournament will diminish the standing of the tournament.

The same can be said regarding the Women’s World Cup.

Currently, the intermediate years between these tournaments offer the perfect amount of time for teams to build their squads, for supporters to become emotionally invested and for players to work towards a goal.

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Instead of tinkering with the format, World Rugby should concentrate their efforts elsewhere in a manner that will benefit their members, like developing a global calendar and uplifting Tier 2 nations. The Rugby Championship and Six Nations, for instance, should really be held every two years, while inbetween the smaller nations should be afforded the opportunity to test their mettle against the bigger Test teams.

These tournaments are cashcows, for sure, but the continued inability of World Rugby to impose themselves on theses unions just goes to show what’s really at stake: Money.

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This nonsensical talk of World Cups every second year just smacks of the worst kind of administrative reasoning – one that looks at the bottom line and then blooms further for monetary gain before substantial development. In short, from this armchair, it is a greedy move by both Fifa and World Rugby to swell their coffers at the expense of everything else.

Of course, and according to the Telegraph report, the game’s gatekeepers want to further complicate rugby by introducing a third card – an orange one – to the proceedings of matches. It’s not like rugby’s laws are already nigh impenetrable for the uninitiated ...

Already, the two-card system creates endless debate and argument, so how a third card will rectify a methodology that is seemingly built on subjective interpretation of the laws, is beyond baffling.

Here too World Rugby needs to step up first, and rectify and amend the rules and regulations in such a manner that it leaves officials with only one outcome when making decisions on-field. There are simply too many questions about the breakdown, scrums and foul-play that divide opinion between the supporter-base and, for that matter, referees.

If the laws are clear as mud, then adding another way to sanction players will not clear up any debate, even if it is for the purpose of withholding the red-card for the most heinous of infringements.

Before they do anything else, World Rugby should really first fix themselves.


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