Tier two rugby nations are likely to be unhappy with today’s World Rugby announcement of new competitions and an expanded World Cup, says 1News Sport presenter Andrew Saville.
The governing body announced this morning that when a Rugby World Cup isn’t being played, the Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams will go head to head in a “world league” — they will be joined by two other teams, tipped to be Japan and Fiji.
Speaking to Breakfast from Paris this morning, Saville said there had been a “fairly positive” reaction so far — but expects tier two nations to be less impressed.
“The tier one nations are going to get quite a bit of money from this. It is quite an interesting concept,” he said.
“For tier two nations, though, I think it rules out pretty much any opportunity of those teams playing the likes of the All Blacks outside of the World Cup.
“For countries like Samoa or Tonga, it is very disappointing, that link there may well be severed.”
World Rugby is adamant money will be shared around, with a separate competition announced for tier two sides, as well as promotion and relegation later on.
The World Cup is also being expanded to 24 teams and shortened to six weeks — with teams playing fewer pool games.
Saville said while the shorter format is a positive, the expanded number of teams will also be bad for tier two nations.
He said that while it will be good for developing rugby countries in Africa, as well as Germany, Canada and the USA, “you get the feeling that again, countries like Samoa and Tonga — where rugby is so popular — are being left behind with decisions like this”.
“I just get the feeling that some at the top of World Rugby neglect countries where rugby is so popular ahead of others.
“You have to ask the question, are they aware of what fans want? Are they aware of what’s happening in grassroots rugby around the world?
“Do they really have their finger on the rugby pulse?,” he said.