Six Nations: Greedy or just short-sighted?
VIEW FROM EUROPE: Dirk Baigent, an Austria-based reader, has penned a thought-provoking column on how the Six Nations ought to relieve the plight of the Pacific Rugby Nations.
As many rugby fans, I too watched the documentary “Oceans apart”. With a keen interest and a sobering understanding, I realized we need to help the Pacific Rugby Nations.
But the problem is very complicated and the solution no less complex, so bear with me.
In general, I agree with the position of the documentary.
But how do you motivate the governments to back off from being to much involved with the rugby unions?
As the documentary mentions, player income from abroad makes 20 percent GDP for Samoa, changing that status quo seems to bring up a whole lot of different challenges. Those players could direct some part of the income into some independent rugby academy that has a holistic approach. That may be part of the solution but it’s not what I am getting at.
Another suggestion is that Pacific players should be able to play for their country of origin to bring in more sponsors after they played for their adopted country. I like the idea but under strict terms like some extended time between the switch. That also maybe apart of the solution but it’s not what I am getting at.
Sharing the ticket revenue seems to be a quick fix that makes sense, but if there is no proper system in place to handle that incoming revenue, it would be like throwing money into a bottomless pit. I think that the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) would be capable of helping to set up a good system with the Pacific Unions.
Again that also maybe apart of the solution but it’s not what I am getting at.
The documentary also goes down the path, that World Rugby should make the Six Nations share their ticket revenue.
But as we find out, World Rugby is not really in charge of the rugby world it is the Six Nations. Those gatekeeper Nations can basically do what they want and no one can stop them.
So here we come to the core problem and it doesn’t only affect the Pacific Nations.
So the solution is that the Six Nations teams should stop being so greedy and give back to the Pacific Nations and let Georgia play in the Six Nations.
Yes, that may definitely be part of the solution but there is more to it.
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The Villains and heroes
As everywhere in real life there are not just pure villains and heroes. We will have to look at things from both perspectives.
The Six Nations will say, we have our own bills to pay. Especially with the pandemic, the Nations have been hit with some tough economic losses. Investing in developing countries will not make up for those economic losses.
So… Maybe the problem of the Six Nations is not being greedy but rather being short-sighted and thinking too small.
Dan Leo said in an interview with “The Good, The Bad and The Rugby” that Rugby is not this global sport so we should take care of our own.
I disagree with that, I think Rugby is the greatest sport in the world and it has the potential to be a true global sport.
Don’t get me wrong I’m all for helping those who have less before thinking of your own needs.
But I think the solution is not an “either or”.
Let’s take a step back here, Tier Two Nations are not just the Pacific Nations, Georgia and Romania, but also Japan (World economy Nr. 3), USA (World economy Nr. 1), Canada (World economy Nr. 10), Russia (World economy Nr. 11), Spain (World economy Nr. 13) and Germany (World economy Nr. 4). Those also happen to be countries with the largest economies in the world.
The Six Nations draw an average viewership of about 10-million which is nice and also in jeopardy if the Six Nations will sale to a private broadcaster (again very shortsighted).
But the World Cup had also 10-million viewers in Germany alone! The World Cup match between Japan and Scotland had 62-million viewers!
What I’m getting at is, if the cake gets bigger everyone gets a bigger piece.
Maybe we’re past begging the Six Nations to let Georgia take part of the tournament.
Instead, the Six Nations could be overshadowed by sold-out Soliderfield Stadiums in the US, Yokohama’s International Stadiums in Japan, BC Place Stadiums in Canada as well as in Spain, Russia and Germany in July, August and November.
Investing in the Pacific Nations (given they have the right system in place) would make rugby a better
product to sale to the big markets. The more competitive teams the better the product (just look at the NFL).
That investment would bring a big return.
So how could that solution look like?
Give the Fans what they want!
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Make Test Rugby great again
Let’s use the little RWC momentum that is left and expand now! The key is to have more regular matches with tier Two nations starting with Japan, Fiji, Georgia and USA.
Let’s be honest we would rather watch Japan play Australia, England and Wales in July, then watch Wales get manhandled by the All Blacks three weeks in a row.
We would rather watch Georgia v Italy then Italy v South Africa.
Let’s make the international Test windows more interesting. Let’s make room for the interesting matches, then those games would become more meaningful.
Not all old rivalries have to be played annually.
Actually not playing each other every year makes certain fixtures a better product like.
England and the All Blacks hadn’t played for more than two years at one point and that match when it finally happened was an absolute cracker.
Instead, it’s time to form new rivalries the “Pasta-Cup” between Italy and Georgia sounds good. How about the “Taifun-Cup” between Japan and Scotland.
A re-vice Nations Championship Cup could also be a pathway for regular fixtures between developing Nations and Tier one Nations. It would help Georgia, Fiji and Japan develop to a competitive side and then it could be expanded to the next tier Two nations, I made a detailed proposal for the here.
Making the Tier Two Nations more competitive would let Rugby tap into those big markets and would definitely benefit the gatekeeper Nations as well.
I really hope for the benefit of the sport they start looking beyond the status quo.
Dirk Baigent, reader from Austria