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owl

Member since Nov 2011 • Last active Oct 2019

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  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    Fair point - rugby (especially domestic rugby in France!) skews so much harder towards home advantage than most other sports...

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    I think this idea that the gap is closing is something of a delusion - 20 years ago Romania were amazing and pushing/beating France, but because they had no pathway they lost that team and interest waned again. Georgia were arguably much better 5 years ago than they are now, but how do we know because they have not and will not get a regular chance to test themselves. It all just feels cyclical - teams get good, get close, get no chance to really improve so just drop away again...

    Japan have certainly improved, and there are less embarrassing thrashings, but I think that's just fitness being better in the smaller teams. Kenya were decent a few years back. Not so much now. Unless there is a genuine shake-up in the global game the smaller teams won't develop - unless they have the financial strength of Japan to actually make something happen (and make them attractive to the other leagues).

    There are some interesting things happening in Germany where a billionaire benefactor has got involved. That will be worth watching. USA are obviously another potential big player - especially if the NFL civil action lawsuits really start to bite...

    If i had untold millions kicking about it would be an interesting exercise to see if I could do a deal to buy an exclusive licence to 'Fiji Rugby' for 10+ years and run all of their professional and commercial operations. If you could pay the players on a par with the top nations, and in doing so ensure you get reasonable access to them (most Fijian players are based in France so the clubs exert serious financial pressure on them to not go to training/international duty etc) you could do something really special with that team. You'd need to be able to base them in Europe and make sure you get enough games against the top teams - but like the AB's take themselves on the road and play money-making games against whoever in Hong Kong/America/London etc I reckon you could do similar with Fiji and turn them into the global force they ought to be. There are some ridiculous statistics around the pacific island populations and professional sport - I think 20% of all professional rugby players are from there!

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    Ha - the look on his and Haskell's faces when the ref told them he wasn't their coach and couldn't solve this for them was priceless...

    For the past 3-4 years Italy seem to lose two 'world class' players for each one they find. They have a potentially tasty backrow, but the props/locks are distinctly average and the backs nothing to write home about. The progress of Treviso is encouraging, however, and I rate Connor O'Shea, but making them 'safe' in the 6 nations doesn't seem to have developed the game. I would really like to see promotion - at least a play off between winner of div 2 and loser of div 1 - but it's just not going to happen. Which is a massive shame.

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    I think that's harsh on Scotland considering their performances recently but Italy have offered nothing for ages now and have quite probably gone backwards over the last ~8 years...

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    The Pacific Island teams play in a Pacific tournament, I think with Japan, USA and maybe Canada? The fundamental reason they're not being brought into the other tournaments is because they bring nothing financial to the table. No significant domestic TV audience, the logistics of travelling there are onerous and there are no big stadiums to get gate receipts from. Japan will be brought into the Rugby Championship for exactly the opposite reasons. the real concern re the Pacific Island teams is no longer ANZ, but the fact that France have 3 'academies' across the islands, so the most promising young players get contracts with French academies and by the time they mature they're French qualified. There was some ridiculous stat recently that across the French league there were more Fijian wingers than French ones. Maybe no French wingers, but that sounds too extreme and I can't be arsed to check...

    The issue with bringing other teams into the established tournaments (the same argument runs for promotion/relegation into the 6 nations, without which how do Georgia/Spain etc develop) is that the existing nations are the shareholders and it would be turkeys voting for christmas for Italy/Scotland to vote to open up relegation. This was the premise of the recently tabled 'Nations League' which would have guaranteed the non-tier-1 teams more games and introduced promotion/relegation. Scotland vetoed it. Understandable, from their perspective, but so short-sighted for the future of the game!

    One rule change that would have a MASSIVE impact would be re national qualification, such that if a tier 2 qualified player was capped by NZ/France/England etc, but then not likely to be picked again, they could revert to their country of birth/qualification and play for them. It would seriously enhance the playing resources of the smaller teams and mean that all of the academies and 'poaching' wasn't necessary so negative as a load more players would have access to professional training but still could perform for their home nation if it didn't work out with a tier 1 team.

    Also, re the inaccessability and non-commerciality of the pacific island teams (and allowing for the fact that almost all of their players are based outside their home nations anyway) you could set them up in Spain/Italy/France/UK and have them play a local tournament in that region - they would almost certainly pick up a significant ex-pat and local fanbase and it would make everything so much easier logistically and commercially...

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    See below - because they didn't actually play any of their test players and were basically rubbish. I think Super Rugby were really unimpressed with their approach...

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    Isn't this exactly the point of difference between the Sunwolves and the Jaguares? Apparently the Japan players on the pitch on Scotland had played an average of 90 mins of Super Rugby each, whereas the Argentinians had averages 900 mins. Because Jamie Joseph has ultimate control he rested the players and totally structured their appearances and playing appearances, whereas the Jaguares went all out. They got to the final, which is great, but they look shot in this world cup.

    I don't follow you're argument re the Japanese - I'm not saying they'll beat SA, but if they don't I can't imagine it will be because of exhaustion following the Super Rugby season!

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    Surely there could be no expectation of travel cost compensation for a natural disaster? Of all the things I might pin on world rugby, that's not one of them... But yeah, your main point, the contingency plans look to have been ridiculous. Which is inexcusable. Especially when the tournament looked to have been getting so many things right and really building momentum!

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
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    I just find it really hard to understand why a genuine contingency plan wasn't possible - with this much warning (i.e. they've know for 48 hours) they could fly the teams and officials to whichever of the islands isn't going to be impacted and play the game behind closed doors. TV cameras would be nice but the main thing (from a fan's perspective and acknowledging that safety obviously imperative) is the integrity of the tournament - if I was a Scotland fan I'd be furious if this decides their participation in the tournament...

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