Rugby is a great sport, but one that doesn’t exactly maximize its potential, so there is a lot of room for improvement.
A series of changes are needed to create a vibrant and truly global game that respects the wishes of its target audience, strives to expand into new territories and demographics, and corrects flaws that hold it back.
Here is my wish-list for 2022 …
TESTING THE RESTRUCTURING
An overhaul is expected to create more freedom of movement, danger and real meritocracy.
How many more times must Italy lose all their Six Nations matches to persuade the powers that be to embrace the concept of promotion and relegation? The Azzurri are not competitive and should therefore be forced to fight for their place via a play-off against the winners of the Rugby Europe Championship.
It would be a very marketable and profitable set-up and if Georgia can go to Rome and win there, it deserves to be promoted.
Italy have lost steadily in the Six Nations over the years and their place could be in jeopardy
Japan are in talks to join an annual tournament and it makes sense that the Brave Blossoms and Fiji are added to the rugby championship, to breathe new life into an outdated competition.
South Africa is expected to stay where it is, but smart planning is needed to stage matches over such a large area and across many time zones.
Quite simply, rugby must be seen more widely to secure its future. Having the Six Nations on free television is a major boost, but the sport then fades from sight for most people. Authorities must recognize the importance of projection as well as profits.
The Premiership has an underground profile in terms of public outreach, so it needs to reestablish the weekly terrestrial highlights and consider allowing the finale to be aired in the clear as well.
The summer test tours and now even the fall tests are more and more out of sight and out of mind.
Ideally, the Top 14 in the French league would be screened in the UK, along with Super Rugby. There has to be a push to commercialize the sport and that starts with letting people see what it is.
SECOND LEVEL UPGRADE
English rugby needs to improve the league, so there are two professional divisions in the country. The system in France is light years ahead and the comparisons are brutal. If Premiership budgets are reduced due to the reduction in the salary cap, there must be a way to split the players into two viable divisions.
Visionary administrators would work hard to generate new sponsors and innovations for the championship, without giving up. It’s a division that has value, as recent English newcomers such as Mark Atkinson and Nic Dolly would confirm.
Hoping that the crowds are cleared for the Six Nations. Going back to empty arenas would remove the tribal spirit and soul from the tournament and again leave some unions in a financial precipice.
If governments insist that Covid passes are mandatory, so be it, but let people fill the stands. And there will have to be a common sense policy regarding close contacts or those who test positive, otherwise there is no way for the Championship to avoid disruption.
Six Nations matches were played behind closed doors last year due to the ongoing pandemic
Whether this is the year the dreaded “caterpillar” is banned. Too many matches are marred by the horrific spectacle of players bonding in line behind the rucks to allow the scrum half to kick unhindered. It is a curse that wastes time and must be banished.
There’s no point in trying to get more viewers and then subject them to extreme boredom like that.
Also get rid of the prowlers in the field posing as medics. Players don’t need water breaks every two minutes or physiotherapists yelling at them from the end zone.
Officials do not need backroom staff to chat.
If there is no bona fide injury emergency, the only people on the court should be the players and the referee.
THE PENALTY OF WAITING
The postponed Women’s World Cup will be held in New Zealand in the fall and organizers will desperately need the Kiwi public to embrace the delayed centerpiece. It is a crucial period for women’s football, which could take off if it is well supported.
What he needs are good crowds for the main event and also enough investment from the unions to ensure that it is not just a procession for the English favorites. , only New Zealand, France and Canada being able to provide significant opposition. There is still time for other countries to step up.
England women will aim for World Cup glory later this year after a fantastic 2021
England and Ireland have both objected to any prospect of a postponement of the Lions tour until this summer, so it falls to them to succeed Down Under at the end of this season.
England will believe they can push their dominant victory over Australia to double digits and it would be welcome to see Jack Willis reinstated in the national team after enduring a long recovery from a horrific knee injury. As for Ireland, at least one victory in New Zealand would validate the first signs that they can become a true global force under Andy Farrell.
Rugby is currently in a positive phase, with attacks generally winning out over defenses. Anyone who enjoys the basics of catch and pass and a quest for space and tries to keep their fingers crossed that the delicate balance of laws and interpretations can prolong this adventurous time.
It’s a sport that tends to be strategically cyclical and also cynical, so the fear is that it won’t be long before spoiler tactics are developed and we’re back in a kick and bash grind.
Please don’t let this happen anytime soon.
There was brilliant offensive rugby in 2021, with French star Antoine Dupont on the rise
ISLANDS OF HOPE
It is set to be a watershed year for the Pacific island nations, which is cause for satisfaction in sport in general. First, Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika will participate in Super Rugby Pacific.
Anyone who cares about this project will want to see proof that it serves as a tool to develop access to talent and marquees in the Islands, and not as a backhand boost for the All Blacks’ talent pool.
After that, it would be great to see Samoa and Tonga release pedigree-full teams, new eligible players, but that means they need matches, and preferably home matches, to feel the benefits of reform. of the regulations.
The RFU are set to make 2022 the year in which they will break with tradition by launching a meticulous plan, so they are ready for when Eddie Jones steps down as England head coach after the 2023 World Cup. The kingmakers at Twickenham must begin to craft a model for regime change, so that they have the best opportunity to avoid a turbulent transition. Whether they want an English coach or another foreign candidate to succeed Jones, it’s a big job that requires a big recruiting process. It has to start soon.