So everyone read my column about how the Six Nations Tournament should be expanded, but in the last few days I thought of a more radical idea that would make international rugby more exciting. Well, more like European international rugby, but that’s aside the point. So what am I exactly proposing? A European Rugby Championship.
How that would work is that all the sides from the Six Nations (Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Wales, and Italy) would all come together with the Rugby Europe Championship (formerly known as European Nations Cup) nations (Georgia, Belgium, Spain, Russia, Germany, Romania, and Portugal) and have them all play one another for the biggest European championship and the biggest international championship outside of the World Cup.
That could bring in more money and more exposure and it gives something that a lot of fans would want. It would be hard to fit this on a single calendar, so this could be alternated every other year. If that were to happen, it probably should happen in the summer months so that it doesn’t conflict with domestic leagues. I also think there should be playoffs after the competition ends to see if it adds any more drama.
So how would the scheduling work? Well I think fans like to see as many matches as possible and having each nation play every single other nation twice, resulting in 24 matches played. Then in the playoffs you would have the top eight sides advance and it would be a single elimination tournament. But lets be realistic here, as fun as that might be, that would be too much. So an idea might be to have each nation play the others once, so that’s 12 matches, and then having the four best advance to the playoffs. That would be a lot more acceptable. And then my final idea for the tournament is to have a promotion/relegation with the last place side so that another nation, like the Czech Republic or so, could have a chance of playing in this special tournament by playing the last place side to see who plays in the next edition of the tournament.
Rugby is trying to gain more popularity and this would be a good idea as it could allow people in such countries as Portugal, Spain, or even Belgium get involved with the sport whether it’s supporting their country or playing the sport. Exposure is the key to make any sport popular and to get more players. That would only make the product of the sport better and maybe the quality of the domestic leagues even better. That’s what happened here in America with soccer, so it could most certainly work for rugby in other countries in Europe. It could also be fun to see what a nation like Georgia does against bigger ones like Ireland or England. Maybe you might see an upset happen. There has been a lot of talk of how good Georgia is and this could be a great exposure for rugby fans to see what type of talent they have and how good they really are. Plus it would help the country get better.
So yes, this is a farfetched idea and probably would never take off, but what do you think? Do you think it could be a good idea or would you tweak it a bit? At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for the sport and seeing the quality of the sport get better makes it more fun for us.