Tuesday’s inbox features your thoughts in reply to Monday's mail regarding the prospect of expanding the Rugby World Cup.
Keep those thoughts coming to firstname.lastname@example.org to make the next edition.
The more immediate fix
While I fully agree this would be a forward step, I believe that even more important is the provision of meaningful and sustained competition for the so-called tier two nations – such as Georgia, Romania etc.
Surely it cannot be beyond the wit of Bill Beaumont and his cohorts to devise a 'League Two' format – along the lines of the Six Nations – to accommodate these nations and provide them with a regular platform to exhibit their improving skills in the game.
Maybe one could also go so far as to include the heresy that there be a play-off between the top team of such a 'League Two' and the bottom team of the Six Nations – with promotion/relegation as is and has been for yonks the accepted norm in the other round-ball sport!
All hail the inevitable expansion
World Cup expansion is inevitable. The questions of when and how are not however. There seem to be three key issues: how to make the current format more globally inclusive, when the tournament should expand and the format an expanded tournament ought to take.
Monday's letter was correct to say the last tournament was disappointingly familiar. It makes the decision to fix the qualification this time so that Asia gets zero qualifiers (Japan have already got in automatically) whilst Oceania's allotment increases from one to three particularly disappointing.
The islands had a poor Rugby World Cup and Japan a good one. Asia should not be penalised for this fact. Sri Lanka or Hong Kong would be a great addition.
Regarding the format of a expanded World Cup, surely four groups of six would be preferable? The luck element inherent when you have 'best runners up' would be taken away and it would guarantee every team five Games.
Lastly, expansion should not be rushed. FIFA took thirteen World Cups to go from 16 to 24 teams. With 20 after eight tournaments, rugby is already ahead. It's better to have too many competitive teams than too few.
Surely a precursor to any expansion is the introduction of some other tournament during the four-year World Cup cycle that gives the present Tier Two nations another chance to compete with the Tier One sides? For a 24-team tournament to thrive at least 16 teams need to be at the present level of Georgia or Japan. Only competition outside of the World Cup can make this happen.
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