England great Courtney Lawes believes that a north versus south contest from the Premiership sides would be a positive way of garnering more interest in the sport.
His idea is akin to rugby league’s State of Origin, which sees Queensland and New South Wales clash in the biggest annual event in the 13-a-side code.
It is also one of the most physical match-ups in either league or union, with the rivalry, as well as the quality of players, increasing the intensity.
Growing the game
Due to the tribalism involved, Lawes believes that it would be popular with both players and fans, and can help grow the game.
There is a question of where the cut-off is in terms of which players fit into which team, especially for those in the Midlands.
The Northampton flanker said it would be done on birthplace, rather than their current team – Owen Farrell would therefore represent the north, for example – and it is an idea which he thinks should be explored.
“Imagine if you did a north versus south in the Prem, where the best northern players play the best southern players. You’re then getting whole regions involved,” he said on The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.
“Can you imagine the northerners if they said they were going to be playing the southerners? Everyone’s going to get involved in that of stuff.”
State of rugby in England
While rugby is thriving in countries such as France and Ireland, it is currently struggling in England, especially at domestic level.
Financial issues have seen three Premiership clubs by the wayside, with Wasps, Worcester Warriors and London Irish all going into administration.
As a result, Lawes insists that the governing bodies need to innovate to take advantage of what he believes is a sport that can be far more popular with the wider community.
“There is a lot you could do with rugby. It is such a good sport. The fact that you can have fans in the stadium that can mix and drink, and it could be an incredible product,” he said.
“You could make the game a much better product than it is now, but you’ve just to got to think outside the box a little bit more.”