The Six Nations tournament is one of the most exciting sporting events every year. Six countries, England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, France, and Wales, will compete for one of the most coveted trophies in rugby. This tournament has expanded a lot, most recently in 2000 with Italy joining, but it’s now time to expand it more, even with a twist.
Italy, while is deserving to be in the tournament, is ranked according to the World Rugby Rankings worse than one nation from Europe that is not even the tournament. That country would be Georgia (who are ranked 12th while Italy is ranked 14th). Georgia is becoming more and more of a force in the rugby world even to the point where they have absolutely dominated in the European Nations Cup having won nine of the past 10 tournaments. So it is about time for Georgia to finally join the Six Nations. However, it shouldn’t just be seven teams, it should be eight. The Eight Nations would be an interesting tournament as now it would take seven matches for each nation to play adding more intrigue to see who would actually win the tournament. More games means more interest and more money. However, what would add more intrigue would be having a promotion/relegation system for the eighth and final spot. How that would work is that let’s say Romania makes it to the tournament and then they finish in eighth, they would have to play a playoff with whoever the winner is of the Europe Championship. Then, whoever wins that playoff would play in the Eight Nations the next year. This gives nations more incentive to play harder and every match would be very important. It is said the tournament can’t go past seven weeks (which I think is ridiculous), but if every team played one match against each nation, that’s seven matches thus only being seven weeks long.
The other thing that would be beneficial for an expansion to the tournament is interest. If rugby wants to become more popular around the world, they are going to need to make things more interesting like the idea I had proposed. I was first exposed to the sport in 2006 when I made a trip to Australia and watched an All-Blacks-Wallabies contest. Three years later when I went off to college, a couple of my friends joined the college club team and I became interested (the next semester I joined the team). Because of exposure, I became interested. That would help the growth of the sport tremendously and if you include more nations for a major competition and make it more competitive, there will be more interest.
It worked with the now The Rugby Championship (also informally known as Quad Nations) which expanded for the 2012 version with Argentina joining Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in what was originally called the Tri Nations Series. It has been monumentally successful as we saw Argentina making it to the semi-finals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Argentina became more interested in the game and that result in the 2015 World Cup proved that. It does feel like that expansion is inevitable, but how it will be done is a good question. However, what I proposed could make things more exciting and possibly more profitable.
If the sport wants to grow into another country, it has to build more intrigue. For someone like say is German, they are going to tune in more to watch their nation not only have a chance to win the European Nations Cup, but also a chance into joining the Eight Nations in the playoff and a chance to watch their nation play the top European nations like England or Ireland in one of the biggest tournaments the sport offers. While this will not totally help change the sport for the better, it will certainly help progress it. It’s one baby step at a time. If something like this happens, rugby soon could become very popular around the globe.