Tier 2 & 3 Rugby Forum

Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

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Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby amz » Tue, 21 Nov 2017, 20:59

To me is clear that 6N won't open unless we will see a rich country with a side able to compete and none of the realistic candidates look to be close (Germany, Canada, USA, Spain) or interested to join (Japan)

If we examine the T2 sides, the best are more interested in a Pacific competition, either Super Rugby or even joining The Championship and I am thinking to Japan and far back due to economical setback Fiji. Islanders might well end up somewhere around, perhaps a join side in NZ or another Asian big city like Singapore.

USA and Canada are in an interesting position as both are economical powerhouses and can look to join both hemispheres. Americas Rugby Championship is a good addition but I think both will look for more developed competitions to produce players, options being franchies in Pro D2 or a North American club/franchises/regions championship with US and Canadian teams, maybe an Uruguayan one as well.

In Europe, although Spain and Germany made serious progress and Russia might be back on cards due to an allegedly better management of Union, it seems that Romania and Georgia are a step up, at least for the time being.

So what do you think are the options for the future? I reckon that in the situation when 6N or even The Championship won't open soon, some sort of T2 tournament / competition need to be designed because OK, these tours are a nice tradition but playing for a trophy I think it can attract more media/public interest.

Rumor is, after 2020 we will see some sort of Nations Cup tournament with 6 sides from Top 20. Although for Romania this competition proved successful and useful because it allowed us to play with expanses easy to predict or smaller financial contribution (e.g. FRR doesn't need to pay rent for stadium) than others, I am not sure this would be the optimal option for future because it takes for the pleasure to play in front of own supporters for many teams.

Also more T1 tests are promised to T2 so there will be more entertainment but as I pointed, while this games are fun and useful , they cannot replace the pleasure to play for a trophy in front of own supporters. So what do you think the options are, for the future? A new Churchill Cup? A more serious Pacific Cup played in the same time with The Championship ? Revised variations of previous competition or completely new ones ? Canada and USA joining REC maybe? A new Nations Cup, without development teams?

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Armchair Fan » Tue, 21 Nov 2017, 22:42

I wouldn't like to see USA and Canada involved in REC. What if it backfires like U18 Championship did? With all its issues and in spite of 6 Nations being a closed shop, Rugby Europe has the most serious senior championship system in place. And let's be honest, both Celtic nations and SANZAAR eye them in the near-future. There's little for Georgia and Romania to gain there.

Maybe, only maybe the solution could come from France. They owe you one and they intend to be ambitious with French Barbarians now that it's become their official A side. I'm not particularly keen on games against A sides, but playing them in France and allow French clubs or LNR to take a slice as a compensation for picking their players could be mutually beneficial.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby victorsra » Tue, 21 Nov 2017, 23:44

Somebody said here in the forum that USA and Canada will be back in the Pacific Nations Cup.

The major problem about competitions like the Nations Cup is that a single venue means less home matches for the other nations playing - and they really need to have great home events. Home matches are central to anybody that wants to grow a domestic market.

The key thing for Romania and Georgia IMO is to have a strong Rugby Europe to balance power and negoaciate with 6N-EPCR.
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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby fullbackace » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 00:13

As far as system goes there is nothing wrong with ENC. Perfectly reasonable league with promotion relegation where every team has a chance to get to the top. The only reason it's boring because only few teams are competitive and 2 teams have dominated it since the start.

I think that improving club rugby is the way forward, but not in the challenge cup format.. If we put aside the financial problems for a second, The united league with Romanian, German, Russian and Georgian franchises would have potential to reach high levels and eventually rival Celtic league.

or maybe Eastern and western leagues with playoff round at the end.

West could be clubs from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.

East: Romania(maybe add Moldova too), Georgia, Russia(Based near black sea maybe), Poland and if overtime any other eastern country gets strong enough.
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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby TheStroBro » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 01:58

In regards to playing with you guys over there...I'll pass. We need to develop a localized competition and are starting to with the ARC. But something that needs to be further developed is the series with Canada. For Both Men and Women.

For men we already play CAN once during the ARC. We need to play them in a series and build it commercially like the Bledisloe cup. For the women that would lock in 2 or 3 matches onto their Calendar per year.

Gaining Tier 1 status is all about commercial revenue. Japan gained that extra vote on the WR Council because of the revenue their Union generates. They're the only Union with two votes. That is the next thing for the likes of US, CAN, ROM, GEO to be focusing on.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby 4N » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 02:02

For men we already play CAN once during the ARC. We need to play them in a series and build it commercially like the Bledisloe cup.


Agree with that.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Canadian_Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 03:06

TheStroBro wrote:In regards to playing with you guys over there...I'll pass. We need to develop a localized competition and are starting to with the ARC. But something that needs to be further developed is the series with Canada. For Both Men and Women.

For men we already play CAN once during the ARC. We need to play them in a series and build it commercially like the Bledisloe cup. For the women that would lock in 2 or 3 matches onto their Calendar per year.

Gaining Tier 1 status is all about commercial revenue. Japan gained that extra vote on the WR Council because of the revenue their Union generates. They're the only Union with two votes. That is the next thing for the likes of US, CAN, ROM, GEO to be focusing on.


Canada also has two votes, which explains the disproportionate amount of money we get from WR regardless of our shit performance.

The key for Romania and Georgia is to play the long game by strengthening REC and bringing other nations up. Spain, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal all show a tonne of potential. The way forward is making the REC commercially attractive enough that 6N can no longer ignore you. That means firstly, winning games but also raising standards of the other countries.

Wales and Scotland aren't even real countries and Ireland is small, rugby is really peanuts as far as money is concerned. I have a feeling France and Italy would jump ship in a heartbeat the minute continental Europe becomes as financially attractive as the UK, which given their withdrawal from the euro zone could be sooner than we think.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 05:27

fullbackace wrote:As far as system goes there is nothing wrong with ENC. Perfectly reasonable league with promotion relegation where every team has a chance to get to the top. The only reason it's boring because only few teams are competitive and 2 teams have dominated it since the start.

I think that improving club rugby is the way forward, but not in the challenge cup format.. If we put aside the financial problems for a second, The united league with Romanian, German, Russian and Georgian franchises would have potential to reach high levels and eventually rival Celtic league.

or maybe Eastern and western leagues with playoff round at the end.

West could be clubs from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.

East: Romania(maybe add Moldova too), Georgia, Russia(Based near black sea maybe), Poland and if overtime any other eastern country gets strong enough.


I floated the idea of what I called the 'World League' on the Australian sports blog site 'The Roar' in March. It basically utilising the current regional set ups to form in essence professional competitive structures for the 'next' 30-36 teams in WR's rankings. At the time it involved The USA and Canada but with the emergence of MLR in the US which is likely to quickly move into Canada they wouldn't necessarily need such a structure.

The way I saw it was. You take the current regional structures. The ARC, the REC, the Asian Championship, PNC and Africa Cup.

Makes sure each structure consists of 6 teams each. So for the Americas segment excluding both Canada and the USA. You'd have have Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina A (I kept them in place because even though Argentina is essentially a T1 power they need more opportunity to build depth). To that looking at nations with more upside I'd look to add Colombia and potentially Mexico.

For Europe you'd take the current 6. Asia the top 3 plus Sri Lanka, Malaysia plus one more. The PNC I'd actually combine that with the Oceania nations for 6 teams. Could even include another Japanese team. In Africa you'd take the 6 teams from the Gold Cup.

The regular season would occur over 10 rounds. Home and away. All in one block. In terms of finalists. With the exception of Europe which would get two berths the top from each of the other pools then progress to the 6 team finals series hosted somewhere relatively TV friendly. I don't know about that one. Anyway. Two pools of three. Top team from each pool plays in the World League Final. As the structure grows instead of adding new grouping you just add more nations to the existing pools to the point where you for all intensive purposes have a 12 to 14 week regular season.

The key will be the ability to provide the players the ability to be full time for a period of 12-14 weeks plus the any finals preparation. Obviously, WR would have to come on board big time to help cover costs and ensure the players have access to S&C, skills coaching etc. The biggest issue here is cost. They would be fairly significant but I honestly think this would be a better use of WR competition funding. I also think it would be more marketable as a whole united structure instead of 5 individual pieces.

And I fully acknowledge that this idea is way out there. More along the lines of thinking out aloud. But they wouldn't necessarily have to go the full way to start. More just two or three and build up to the five. So start with say. Europe, Asia and the Americas. Look to progressively integrate Africa and the Pacific. I should also note that for the structures that traditionally have promotion/relegation. That could be maintained. Thus providing the nations below with more incentive to improve.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby amz » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 07:34

Armchair Fan wrote:I wouldn't like to see USA and Canada involved in REC. What if it backfires like U18 Championship did? With all its issues and in spite of 6 Nations being a closed shop, Rugby Europe has the most serious senior championship system in place. And let's be honest, both Celtic nations and SANZAAR eye them in the near-future. There's little for Georgia and Romania to gain there.

Maybe, only maybe the solution could come from France. They owe you one and they intend to be ambitious with French Barbarians now that it's become their official A side. I'm not particularly keen on games against A sides, but playing them in France and allow French clubs or LNR to take a slice as a compensation for picking their players could be mutually beneficial.


I see REC and ARC as best championships systems with the former being younger but not far behind. Maybe a Nations Cup with top 3 sides from each competition except Argentina A which is in the end a development team? France may give some tests of Barbarians to REC countries, I agree but as I said, I think T1 tests, even Barbarians are a thing for experience, less for development and for this you need a regular tournament with a trophy, ideally in front of own supporters. My thoughts regarding a joint REC + USA/Canada come mainly because Belgium is not competitive enough and unless Portugal will re-build and promote we won't have a better team in the respective spot and Russia, while have a decent team fails to organization (visa hassle each time when play there) and support for XV (they mainly fund 7s).

Someone mention Belgium as having potential and I agree, they have awesome infrastructure, old clubs with good bases, the proximity of France to feed players in the pro competitions but somehow they fail to use these advantages year after year and sadly brawls are their trademarks.

fullbackace wrote:As far as system goes there is nothing wrong with ENC. Perfectly reasonable league with promotion relegation where every team has a chance to get to the top. The only reason it's boring because only few teams are competitive and 2 teams have dominated it since the start.

I think that improving club rugby is the way forward, but not in the challenge cup format.. If we put aside the financial problems for a second, The united league with Romanian, German, Russian and Georgian franchises would have potential to reach high levels and eventually rival Celtic league.

or maybe Eastern and western leagues with playoff round at the end.

West could be clubs from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.

East: Romania(maybe add Moldova too), Georgia, Russia(Based near black sea maybe), Poland and if overtime any other eastern country gets strong enough.


I agree club level is a place which needs special attention. We have Shield and some of listed countries don't participate. Moldova is almost bankrupt, unless a sugar daddy comes there nothing will happen and at best they can field a local team which would be around the level of Romanian second division. Russian rugby have to solve the issue of distance; whenever Russians like it or not, nobody wants to travel to Sibir. Poland have to make it a level up first before being brought into this discussion. Realistically I think so far the countries who can send clubs to compete are Spain, Portugal, Germany, Romania, Georgia and Russia and even for these the structures are still too amateur to grant a long term engagement in such competition.

So for club development I think there are the following (long term) options:

1. More support from Unions to develop European Shield. Italians did a lot, maybe is time for other Unions to help;
2. Franchises in Pro 14 - here US and Canada may have a say as well but I do think it would be wiser for them to start develop a local pro competition; setback is that is unwise to base your national team around one franchise, see Argentina how much feels the absence of European based players.
3. Iberian League - not sure why Spain and Portugal try to group the better clubs in a bigger trans Iberian competition or a Cup if they deem so important local championship.
4. Black Sea League - Romanian and Georgian squads; no Russians from Siberia, too much travel, different seasons, may work if based around Black Sea etc; set back is lack of economical ties and direct flights between Romania and Georgia. Moldovan and Polish teams may join later; However, although both countries internal competition are rising none have the financial means now to build such competition;
5. Western Europe league build around Germany - German, Belgian, Dutch clubs, maybe Italian and Polish ones too. Excellent transport facilities everywhere, good infrastructure for rugby, very rich markets.
6. Romanian - Italian league - Take 5 best clubs from each competition; tons of flights between Romania and Italy, strong cultural and economical ties;

TheStroBro wrote:In regards to playing with you guys over there...I'll pass. We need to develop a localized competition and are starting to with the ARC. But something that needs to be further developed is the series with Canada. For Both Men and Women.

For men we already play CAN once during the ARC. We need to play them in a series and build it commercially like the Bledisloe cup. For the women that would lock in 2 or 3 matches onto their Calendar per year.

Gaining Tier 1 status is all about commercial revenue. Japan gained that extra vote on the WR Council because of the revenue their Union generates. They're the only Union with two votes. That is the next thing for the likes of US, CAN, ROM, GEO to be focusing on.


Agree with series with Canada. But what I think you need most is a local pro competition with 10-12 teams, US and Canadian based, that is the bread and butter to raise players from age grade to a level good enough to play test rugby. When you'll have such competition you'll have the structure to build upon a 6N or The Championship bid as you have the manpower and financial means. Also I agree about revenue.

Canadian_Rugger wrote:The key for Romania and Georgia is to play the long game by strengthening REC and bringing other nations up. Spain, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal all show a tonne of potential. The way forward is making the REC commercially attractive enough that 6N can no longer ignore you. That means firstly, winning games but also raising standards of the other countries.

Wales and Scotland aren't even real countries and Ireland is small, rugby is really peanuts as far as money is concerned. I have a feeling France and Italy would jump ship in a heartbeat the minute continental Europe becomes as financially attractive as the UK, which given their withdrawal from the euro zone could be sooner than we think.


I do believe as well that at this moment this seems to be the best path for the future. If Spain and Germany build well enough to compete Georgia and Romania, such tournament can be entertaining for a big corporation like DHL which is in the end German based and make it interesting for France and Italy as well.

You can even call it 6 Nations: France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Romania, Georgia :D

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 07:53

amz wrote:
Armchair Fan wrote:I wouldn't like to see USA and Canada involved in REC. What if it backfires like U18 Championship did? With all its issues and in spite of 6 Nations being a closed shop, Rugby Europe has the most serious senior championship system in place. And let's be honest, both Celtic nations and SANZAAR eye them in the near-future. There's little for Georgia and Romania to gain there.

Maybe, only maybe the solution could come from France. They owe you one and they intend to be ambitious with French Barbarians now that it's become their official A side. I'm not particularly keen on games against A sides, but playing them in France and allow French clubs or LNR to take a slice as a compensation for picking their players could be mutually beneficial.


I see REC and ARC as best championships systems with the former being younger but not far behind. Maybe a Nations Cup with top 3 sides from each competition except Argentina A which is in the end a development team? France may give some tests of Barbarians to REC countries, I agree but as I said, I think T1 tests, even Barbarians are a thing for experience, less for development and for this you need a regular tournament with a trophy, ideally in front of own supporters. My thoughts regarding a joint REC + USA/Canada come mainly because Belgium is not competitive enough and unless Portugal will re-build and promote we won't have a better team in the respective spot and Russia, while have a decent team fails to organization (visa hassle each time when play there) and support for XV (they mainly fund 7s).

Someone mention Belgium as having potential and I agree, they have awesome infrastructure, old clubs with good bases, the proximity of France to feed players in the pro competitions but somehow they fail to use these advantages year after year and sadly brawls are their trademarks.

fullbackace wrote:As far as system goes there is nothing wrong with ENC. Perfectly reasonable league with promotion relegation where every team has a chance to get to the top. The only reason it's boring because only few teams are competitive and 2 teams have dominated it since the start.

I think that improving club rugby is the way forward, but not in the challenge cup format.. If we put aside the financial problems for a second, The united league with Romanian, German, Russian and Georgian franchises would have potential to reach high levels and eventually rival Celtic league.

or maybe Eastern and western leagues with playoff round at the end.

West could be clubs from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.

East: Romania(maybe add Moldova too), Georgia, Russia(Based near black sea maybe), Poland and if overtime any other eastern country gets strong enough.


I agree club level is a place which needs special attention. We have Shield and some of listed countries don't participate. Moldova is almost bankrupt, unless a sugar daddy comes there nothing will happen and at best they can field a local team which would be around the level of Romanian second division. Russian rugby have to solve the issue of distance; whenever Russians like it or not, nobody wants to travel to Sibir. Poland have to make it a level up first before being brought into this discussion. Realistically I think so far the countries who can send clubs to compete are Spain, Portugal, Germany, Romania, Georgia and Russia and even for these the structures are still too amateur to grant a long term engagement in such competition.

So for club development I think there are the following (long term) options:

1. More support from Unions to develop European Shield. Italians did a lot, maybe is time for other Unions to help;
2. Franchises in Pro 14 - here US and Canada may have a say as well but I do think it would be wiser for them to start develop a local pro competition; setback is that is unwise to base your national team around one franchise, see Argentina how much feels the absence of European based players.
3. Iberian League - not sure why Spain and Portugal try to group the better clubs in a bigger trans Iberian competition or a Cup if they deem so important local championship.
4. Black Sea League - Romanian and Georgian squads; no Russians from Siberia, too much travel, different seasons, may work if based around Black Sea etc; set back is lack of economical ties and direct flights between Romania and Georgia. Moldovan and Polish teams may join later; However, although both countries internal competition are rising none have the financial means now to build such competition;
5. Western Europe league build around Germany - German, Belgian, Dutch clubs, maybe Italian and Polish ones too. Excellent transport facilities everywhere, good infrastructure for rugby, very rich markets.
6. Romanian - Italian league - Take 5 best clubs from each competition; tons of flights between Romania and Italy, strong cultural and economical ties;

TheStroBro wrote:In regards to playing with you guys over there...I'll pass. We need to develop a localized competition and are starting to with the ARC. But something that needs to be further developed is the series with Canada. For Both Men and Women.

For men we already play CAN once during the ARC. We need to play them in a series and build it commercially like the Bledisloe cup. For the women that would lock in 2 or 3 matches onto their Calendar per year.

Gaining Tier 1 status is all about commercial revenue. Japan gained that extra vote on the WR Council because of the revenue their Union generates. They're the only Union with two votes. That is the next thing for the likes of US, CAN, ROM, GEO to be focusing on.


Agree with series with Canada. But what I think you need most is a local pro competition with 10-12 teams, US and Canadian based, that is the bread and butter to raise players from age grade to a level good enough to play test rugby. When you'll have such competition you'll have the structure to build upon a 6N or The Championship bid as you have the manpower and financial means. Also I agree about revenue.

Canadian_Rugger wrote:The key for Romania and Georgia is to play the long game by strengthening REC and bringing other nations up. Spain, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal all show a tonne of potential. The way forward is making the REC commercially attractive enough that 6N can no longer ignore you. That means firstly, winning games but also raising standards of the other countries.

Wales and Scotland aren't even real countries and Ireland is small, rugby is really peanuts as far as money is concerned. I have a feeling France and Italy would jump ship in a heartbeat the minute continental Europe becomes as financially attractive as the UK, which given their withdrawal from the euro zone could be sooner than we think.


I do believe as well that at this moment this seems to be the best path for the future. If Spain and Germany build well enough to compete Georgia and Romania, such tournament can be entertaining for a big corporation like DHL which is in the end German based and make it interesting for France and Italy as well.

You can even call it 6 Nations: France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Romania, Georgia :D


Qualifying the Top 3 from the REC and ARC is a similar concept to my suggestion. Could also look to qualify the winner of either Afirca/Asia and the Pacific. Two pools of 4 teams. Minimum three games a team. Pool winner goes through the the final.

As for the domestic leagues. Again sort of the reasoning behind my suggestion. I believe that part of the next stage in developing the next rung of nations is introducing more professional domestic pathways in order to compete and develop in. Individually I'm unsure of how they could achieve this but look to trans-border leagues could be workable. It's also something I'd like to see WR work with RE and the respective Unions on a number of fronts to achieve. From finding financing for the projects to sponsorship and broadcast.

I'd use the NRC here as a rough approximation of what should be aimed toward as an initial start up of these kind of leagues. It's actually a good competition in terms of costs and distances needed to travel in order to work from. The entire competition is run for around $1.5m AUD annually. This includes operating in a travel sector that is significantly more expensive in many respects to Europe.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby amz » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 07:56

I wanted to let your post later to answer it because it obviously is well thought but my knowledge about Asian competitions for example is close to 0 and I wanted to do a bit of research.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby AXLstockholm » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 08:02

Like other posters have stated, I believe the most important priority is for every Tier 2 country to establish a professional domestic league and ensure the grassroots are solid.

When the grassroots and professional domestic leagues are well established, the respective national teams will naturally improve (In my humble opinion).

1. I really hope North America establishes its professional domestic league once and for all, absolutely crucial to both American and Canadian Rugby. 8-10 US clubs combined with 2-3 Canadian clubs with completely professional environment will significantly improve the pool of players eligible for national team selection. Providing a legitimate pathway to professional Rugby for the promising college/high school players is a massive incentive for the future.

2. It would be interesting for 6-8 best finishing Italian domestic clubs from its National Championship of Excellence combine with the best finishing 3-4 Romania SupaLiga clubs to create a Italian-Romania Super League. Italy badly needs to increase their professional playing ranks (their U20 contains many promising players) and a measly two clubs in Pro14 isn't going to improve anytime soon.

3. Very hard for the Pacific Island nations but the inclusion of the Fijian Drua in the National Rugby Championship was very well received by both players and fans. I really hope one day Tongan and Samoan clubs are invited to participate in the competition, maybe base themselves in Sydney or Brisbane and play every second home game in their home countries if they are concerned about costs.

4. I wish the best finishing Georgian club in the Didi10 is guaranteed entry into the European Champions Cup or 2-3 Georgian clubs are guaranteed entry into the Challenge Cup to expose its domestic players (in particular their backline players) to high level competition.

5. Germany...sleeping giant both in terms of playing numbers and financially. The moment Germany qualifies for the Rugby World Cup I imagine there will be a large (but not massive) boom in interest in the sport.

For now, forget about organising complicated test match series involving multiple countries across two or three continents.

Focus on improving the domestic Rugby scene.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 08:15

amz wrote:I wanted to let your post later to answer it because it obviously is well thought but my knowledge about Asian competitions for example is close to 0 and I wanted to do a bit of research.


I would be looking to combine the top two divisions in the Asian pyramid. While excluding Japan. Or more specifically. Moving Japan. This would leave that structure with Hong Kong, Korea, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philipines and the UAE.

The Pacific would need a bit of working around to make happen but I think it could be doable. Especially if we're talking about full strength sides from the Islands and Japan. Then there's a matter of balance. But I would look to involve Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to start. You have to find another two sides. And that's the big issue with the Pacific. You could do as I suggested above and combine it with the Oceania. If they can sort out PNG that could be a reasonable option. Perhaps the Cook Islands. There's not a great deal of depth beyond that. Another solution could be to run the Maori ABs and Aus Baa Baas in this competition but prevent them from being eligible to qualify. It's a difficult.

Africa is a bit of a mystery to me. I just went with what I knew. And was the Gold Cup. Which probably wouldn't be a bad launching pad.

Edit: Actually. Come to think of it. Forget the PIs. They'd probably be better served working with WR to arrange a similar deal as Fiji with the DRua to enter the NRC structure in the near future.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 08:22

AXLstockholm wrote:Like other posters have stated, I believe the most important priority is for every Tier 2 country to establish a professional domestic league and ensure the grassroots are solid.

When the grassroots and professional domestic leagues are well established, the respective national teams will naturally improve (In my humble opinion).

1. I really hope North America establishes its professional domestic league once and for all, absolutely crucial to both American and Canadian Rugby. 8-10 US clubs combined with 2-3 Canadian clubs with completely professional environment will significantly improve the pool of players eligible for national team selection. Providing a legitimate pathway to professional Rugby for the promising college/high school players is a massive incentive for the future.

2. It would be interesting for 6-8 best finishing Italian domestic clubs from its National Championship of Excellence combine with the best finishing 3-4 Romania SupaLiga clubs to create a Italian-Romania Super League. Italy badly needs to increase their professional playing ranks (their U20 contains many promising players) and a measly two clubs in Pro14 isn't going to improve anytime soon.

3. Very hard for the Pacific Island nations but the inclusion of the Fijian Drua in the National Rugby Championship was very well received by both players and fans. I really hope one day Tongan and Samoan clubs are invited to participate in the competition, maybe base themselves in Sydney or Brisbane and play every second home game in their home countries if they are concerned about costs.

4. I wish the best finishing Georgian club in the Didi10 is guaranteed entry into the European Champions Cup or 2-3 Georgian clubs are guaranteed entry into the Challenge Cup to expose its domestic players (in particular their backline players) to high level competition.

5. Germany...sleeping giant both in terms of playing numbers and financially. The moment Germany qualifies for the Rugby World Cup I imagine there will be a large (but not massive) boom in interest in the sport.

For now, forget about organising complicated test match series involving multiple countries across two or three continents.

Focus on improving the domestic Rugby scene.


I actually put a note at the bottom of my last about that. That's what should be the goal for the PI's. To do as Fiji has with the help of WR and get a side in the NRC. And taking the current admin issues into account in Samoa and the infrastructure issues in Tonga perhaps having them based primary in Australia wouldn't be all that bad of an option. Could also work out for their benefit. They could if based in Australia then look to attract heritage players into those squads. Could be worth a look.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby vino_93 » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 09:09

I fully agree with axl. Try to develop pro leagues. F.e. Germany could find an agreement with Benelux and maybe Switzerland. There are for sure not enough clubs to each countries to have domestic pro xompetitions. But at 4 (5 with lux ?), you could find the way to have at least 8 pro teams. With half of the squads locals, half outsiders to increase the level.

Everyone here talk about poland with other countries... But what seems logic for me would be a merger with czech clubs. Both championships are similar with pro /semi-pros ? level, full of locals. Start building on it to reach better standard, as a central euro league. it could easily involved clubs from other countries such as Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, if rugby grow there later.

I mean what is important is to focus on local structure, with easy way to move. Italian Romanian has no sense. To far. You talk about flights, but that's expensive. Pro clubs with limited money use bus.
I think Romania should only focus to increase to 8 teams and joining euro competitions. Fine enough for a pro league. After it starts to be hard with international calendrier.
And when I mean euro league, I mean having a shield better looking, involving more clubs from italy, Romania, Russia and everywhere rugby is/will be pro.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Bogdan_DC » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 09:32

I agree, for Romania an 8 teams pro league is more than enough. I have big hopes that Constanta will have a team again next year so we will have an 8 team SL. Plenty of work to do in making more teams in lower tiers of Romanian championship and of course in youth growing.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby amz » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:04

First few words about the title which may sound exclusive but it is not. I think the main issue is in North because Southern Hemisphere was more open to rising nations, Argentina was invited to join 3 Nations, Japan and Argentina have a SR sides, SA was opened to various select XV from Argentina or Africa for development reasons, Australia is helping Fiji and same path may be used by Samoa and Tonga so overall there are more opportunities. The main issue I think is in north where Georgia, Romania, Canada and USA , atlhough receiving good tests (minus Romania) hardly have other options to develop further. But obviously the discussion don't exclude other areas.

Working Class Rugger wrote:I floated the idea of what I called the 'World League' on the Australian sports blog site 'The Roar' in March. It basically utilising the current regional set ups to form in essence professional competitive structures for the 'next' 30-36 teams in WR's rankings. At the time it involved The USA and Canada but with the emergence of MLR in the US which is likely to quickly move into Canada they wouldn't necessarily need such a structure.

The way I saw it was. You take the current regional structures. The ARC, the REC, the Asian Championship, PNC and Africa Cup.

Makes sure each structure consists of 6 teams each. So for the Americas segment excluding both Canada and the USA. You'd have have Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina A (I kept them in place because even though Argentina is essentially a T1 power they need more opportunity to build depth). To that looking at nations with more upside I'd look to add Colombia and potentially Mexico.

For Europe you'd take the current 6. Asia the top 3 plus Sri Lanka, Malaysia plus one more. The PNC I'd actually combine that with the Oceania nations for 6 teams. Could even include another Japanese team. In Africa you'd take the 6 teams from the Gold Cup.

The regular season would occur over 10 rounds. Home and away. All in one block. In terms of finalists. With the exception of Europe which would get two berths the top from each of the other pools then progress to the 6 team finals series hosted somewhere relatively TV friendly. I don't know about that one. Anyway. Two pools of three. Top team from each pool plays in the World League Final. As the structure grows instead of adding new grouping you just add more nations to the existing pools to the point where you for all intensive purposes have a 12 to 14 week regular season.

The key will be the ability to provide the players the ability to be full time for a period of 12-14 weeks plus the any finals preparation. Obviously, WR would have to come on board big time to help cover costs and ensure the players have access to S&C, skills coaching etc. The biggest issue here is cost. They would be fairly significant but I honestly think this would be a better use of WR competition funding. I also think it would be more marketable as a whole united structure instead of 5 individual pieces.

And I fully acknowledge that this idea is way out there. More along the lines of thinking out aloud. But they wouldn't necessarily have to go the full way to start. More just two or three and build up to the five. So start with say. Europe, Asia and the Americas. Look to progressively integrate Africa and the Pacific. I should also note that for the structures that traditionally have promotion/relegation. That could be maintained. Thus providing the nations below with more incentive to improve.


To me it looks like a T2 World Cup. I think issue would be to accommodate in same competition so many different levels, for example ARC and REC are obviously in a better position while teams from Africa and especially Asia struggle to reach the same level. You can hardly compare South Korea and Hong Kong to top European or American sides. Africa is in a better position with Namibia making steps to improve and Zimbabwe (hopefully being free again) and Kenya with certain potential. So I wouldn't make this World League with equal number of places for each region. Also how would be the calendar since we have 2 years occupied by RWC qualifications?

AXLstockholm wrote:Like other posters have stated, I believe the most important priority is for every Tier 2 country to establish a professional domestic league and ensure the grassroots are solid.

When the grassroots and professional domestic leagues are well established, the respective national teams will naturally improve (In my humble opinion).

1. I really hope North America establishes its professional domestic league once and for all, absolutely crucial to both American and Canadian Rugby. 8-10 US clubs combined with 2-3 Canadian clubs with completely professional environment will significantly improve the pool of players eligible for national team selection. Providing a legitimate pathway to professional Rugby for the promising college/high school players is a massive incentive for the future.

2. It would be interesting for 6-8 best finishing Italian domestic clubs from its National Championship of Excellence combine with the best finishing 3-4 Romania SupaLiga clubs to create a Italian-Romania Super League. Italy badly needs to increase their professional playing ranks (their U20 contains many promising players) and a measly two clubs in Pro14 isn't going to improve anytime soon.

3. Very hard for the Pacific Island nations but the inclusion of the Fijian Drua in the National Rugby Championship was very well received by both players and fans. I really hope one day Tongan and Samoan clubs are invited to participate in the competition, maybe base themselves in Sydney or Brisbane and play every second home game in their home countries if they are concerned about costs.

4. I wish the best finishing Georgian club in the Didi10 is guaranteed entry into the European Champions Cup or 2-3 Georgian clubs are guaranteed entry into the Challenge Cup to expose its domestic players (in particular their backline players) to high level competition.

5. Germany...sleeping giant both in terms of playing numbers and financially. The moment Germany qualifies for the Rugby World Cup I imagine there will be a large (but not massive) boom in interest in the sport.

For now, forget about organising complicated test match series involving multiple countries across two or three continents.

Focus on improving the domestic Rugby scene.


I do agree with conclusion, I think this is the best path so far. Argentina and Georgia did very well with developing youngster locally than send them as professionals abroad but I think this path have its limits, you depend too much on foreign clubs and with a limited amount of player as Georgia (compared with Argentina) you'll hit a limit at some point. Good local competition attenuates this dependence and may give more time to practice together as a team.

However, I don't think any Georgian club can be good enough now to have a guaranteed spot. Not even Romanian or Russian ones, who seems to be the strongest.

Working Class Rugger wrote:I actually put a note at the bottom of my last about that. That's what should be the goal for the PI's. To do as Fiji has with the help of WR and get a side in the NRC. And taking the current admin issues into account in Samoa and the infrastructure issues in Tonga perhaps having them based primary in Australia wouldn't be all that bad of an option. Could also work out for their benefit. They could if based in Australia then look to attract heritage players into those squads. Could be worth a look.


Yeah I think this is the way for Islanders. Any local championship, even between them would be a logistical nightmare but teams scattered in nearby countries, Australia or even NZ, or even a SR franchise may assure them a good path to professionalism for younger players and anyway lot of them will still have the chance to develop in European competitions.

vino_93 wrote:I mean what is important is to focus on local structure, with easy way to move. Italian Romanian has no sense. To far. You talk about flights, but that's expensive. Pro clubs with limited money use bus.
I think Romania should only focus to increase to 8 teams and joining euro competitions. Fine enough for a pro league. After it starts to be hard with international calendrier.
And when I mean euro league, I mean having a shield better looking, involving more clubs from italy, Romania, Russia and everywhere rugby is/will be pro.


Fair enough, the next step I want to see is 8th club joining Super Liga and we are waiting this from 2 years already. Join league with Italy would probably be too far step now but at some point even local competitions will hit a limit. If calendar allow, some sort of Romanian - Italian Cup can take place among top 4 teams from each competition.

But yes, Shield should be top priority of T2 countries from Europe.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:26

vino_93 wrote:I fully agree with axl. Try to develop pro leagues. F.e. Germany could find an agreement with Benelux and maybe Switzerland. There are for sure not enough clubs to each countries to have domestic pro xompetitions. But at 4 (5 with lux ?), you could find the way to have at least 8 pro teams. With half of the squads locals, half outsiders to increase the level.

Everyone here talk about poland with other countries... But what seems logic for me would be a merger with czech clubs. Both championships are similar with pro /semi-pros ? level, full of locals. Start building on it to reach better standard, as a central euro league. it could easily involved clubs from other countries such as Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, if rugby grow there later.

I mean what is important is to focus on local structure, with easy way to move. Italian Romanian has no sense. To far. You talk about flights, but that's expensive. Pro clubs with limited money use bus.
I think Romania should only focus to increase to 8 teams and joining euro competitions. Fine enough for a pro league. After it starts to be hard with international calendrier.
And when I mean euro league, I mean having a shield better looking, involving more clubs from italy, Romania, Russia and everywhere rugby is/will be pro.


I tend to agree with most everything you've posted here. I wouldn't look to involve Switzerland with a Germany/Benelux competition. With Serviette competing in the French system I tend to think that would be a better fit at present. Could be wrong. Perhaps someone with knowledge as to the general cultural leanings of Swiss Rugby could help us out here.

I also agree on the number of teams in these hypothetical leagues. Eight would be the best fit in my opinion. They would help provide a more solid season. Fourteen regular season games plus two weeks of finals. Also agree on the idea of working to get Romania up to 8 teams and ideally working to get the Russian league entirely professional and stable. Same for Georgia. If possible. A Central European League involving at the beginning Poland and the Czech Republic would be cool if possible.

I don't know how plausible an Iberian league would be. Taking into account the plausibility of everything we're discussing here. It may be. I'd like to think it would. But if not, then perhaps focus on the Division De Honor and lifting its overall standards and visibility would be the next best bet.

Sounds like a lot of work. A lot of work but I tend to think as others that this is the next step in bringing these nations forward. And I would like to believe with the right level of engagement they could get things moving. Professional environments with access to S&C and skills development across a broader selection of players would do wonders for both the players and the game in each of these respective nation.

Beyond that. It would really add more to the Continental Shield. Having a number of pro leagues feeding into could not hurt its development or marketability.
Last edited by Working Class Rugger on Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:38, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:37

amz wrote:Yeah I think this is the way for Islanders. Any local championship, even between them would be a logistical nightmare but teams scattered in nearby countries, Australia or even NZ, or even a SR franchise may assure them a good path to professionalism for younger players and anyway lot of them will still have the chance to develop in European competitions.


The only PI nation with half a chance of a SR or IPRC franchise be it stand alone or combined is Fiji. And only Fiji. There's been a fair degree of talk about providing opportunity for PI players of recent. Mainly to do with viewing the current RLWC through rose coloured glasses in regards to PI participation in that sport. But I do believe more opportunity is needed. And basing these teams in Australia (I'd suggest New Zealand but I cannot see the NZRU ever letting that happen) as a means of not only cutting costs but also potentially capturing the ever growing heritage players from the Tongan and Samoan communities certainly wouldn't hurt the Islands either (there are nearly as many Samoans in either Aus or NZ than actually on the Islands including those who consider themselves Samoan through descendant and similar with that of Tonga) opening up more reach in terms of talent.

From an Australian perspective. It would bring the competition up to 11 teams. As someone who thinks one of the NSW teams should be cut this would provide a pretty solid competition.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Armchair Fan » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:40

Iberian League has repeatedly been discussed by Spanish and Portuguese administrations and clubs but nothing comes out of it. There is too many people thinking such a model is going to let them behind on both sides of the border.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Working Class Rugger » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:42

Armchair Fan wrote:Iberian League has repeatedly been discussed by Spanish and Portuguese administrations and clubs but nothing comes out of it. There is too many people thinking such a model is going to let them behind on both sides of the border.


That's what I thought. I actually remember you posting similar on several previous occasions. Which a pity but the reality of the situation. It's why I suggested focusing on the Divsion De Honor and looking to raise its standards, marketability, sponsorship levels and visibility as a means to progressing more toward a professional structure.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby honestly_united » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 10:58

You really have to have a 2 pronged attack to improve. You need a club system to develop players to the required standard for internationals, and a high standard of international matches to push forward at the top end.

Its about having a pathway for players to progress, and to be fair that isn’t cheap. You need the stepping stone of local club, to regional / pro club, international. Looking back (and in NZ this is how it still works I believe) to the amateur era, you had regional leagues, each with many local clubs. This is the back bone of the rugby community. These local clubs then provide the best players to the district team. You would have then selected the best players from the district teams for your national team. So players standing out in the club game, play at a higher level in the districts / regional games to develop their game, then those that shine their get selected for the national teams. Each level up is a higher standard. The professional era though has ruined this in many countries. The Celtic nations still have a semblance of this, in the clubs are assigned to a pro club / region, but it practice it works very differently now.

For me the one thing that would help all countries is a proper international window the same as football, where there are no club games allowed on certain dates, this would ensure that any players from Tier 2 countries are not faced with a club vs country dilemma. You just have to look at any match thread on here and there is always discussion about which players are not being released by there French clubs etc. IF there was no clash of fixtures then more countries would have their best players available. Maybe World Rugby could step in and look at paying compensation to clubs for players missing, and also the players if they are losing wages. You have to sympathise with the players, in rugby there are less than 100 clubs in Europe where you can make a proper living from playing rugby, so you don’t have much options if a club says they don’t want you to play international. In football, in England alone there are more than 100 clubs you can play full time at.

Ideally for Europe you would hope that all countries could have national either semi pro or lower level full time pro leagues, then 2 or 3 regional pro teams playing in multinational leagues. I am all in favour of adding in Spanish, Georgian, German, Romanian, US, Canada etc pro sides to the Pro 14. Ideally for example, you could have a team in Tblisi where you would have the best of the current Didi players, playing in an expanded pro 14 and for the national team you would combine that with the players currently playing at a high level France and England. The same approach could be used for a team in Bucharest, Vallodolid etc. I don’t think bring players back home is the correct route as its too expensive.

If you look at the current 6N countries, all of the pro clubs receive large handouts from their unions, and in the majority of the cases only survive through these handouts. The unions only have this money through playing the 6N’s and AI’s, and the TV & Sponsorship money this generates. If you take Scotland as an example, the SRU gives many millions each year to Glasgow & Edinburgh (my understanding is that it is ballpark of £5m to each). For Glasgow the majority of games are close to a sellout of 9000, the ticket prices are not cheap, though not overly expensive, they play as many games as you could reasonably fit into a season, yet although the players are getting paid as much as the club can afford, they are still losing players as teams in France and England can double wages. Yet this is a good thing as it give opportunities for players to come through as with only 2 pro teams we struggle to give players enough games to develop. We then have a semi pro in all but name national league below that, which the SRU are about to rip up, but that is for another discussion. These are used to give fringe players game time, and also help develop / identify up and coming players.

The international question is very different one to answer. I am all for a relegation game between 6N and REC to open the game, but then you have the problem of when to play the game. If you look at the summer and Autumn windows 2018’s game are already fixed for June, and probably being firmed up now for Autumn. If there was to be a play off game, how do you arrange this, without 12 countries having to keep dates in their schedule clear until April when they would know if they were in the play off or not. In reality this should not be an issue, as in this day and age bookng travel and accommodation, selling match tickets etc with 4 or 5 months notice should not be a problem.

The development of the regional tournaments is a must, but so is opening up the top end to. Ideally you could have the winners of a Asian tournament, Pacific, American and African playing off to get a place in the Championship at the same time as a 6N vs REC play off game

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Bruce_ma_goose » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 11:53

As things stand i am optimistic for NH Tier2 progression:

North America options - establish domestic league, join Pro14 and continue to improve against Argentina XV in the ARC. Already gets a reasonable amount of matches with Tier1 sides.

Japan options - Sunwolves and Top League both should improve. Sunwolves getting direct assistance from Super Rugby from next season. If they improve enough on and off the field the door to the Rugby Championship will open swiftly. Indo-Pacific may be another route if Super Rugby stalls. Already gets regular matches with Tier1 national teams.

Europe Options -
- home Tier 1 tests from 2018 for top two ranked sides.
- options for some (Spain and Germany most likely) with the Pro14.
- support the Continental Shield fully and use it as a pathway to the Challenge Cup. Resist losing places if SA get invited to European tournaments. Lobby for promotion / relegation between the Continental Shield and Challenge Cup.
- improvement in Germany, Russia, Belgium and Spain seems likely and will help increase level of all REC sides.
- if Romania and Georgia can start beating Tier1 sides on home turf and still get excluded from promotion/relegation then lobby EPRC hard for a European tournament.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby TheStroBro » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 16:50

amz wrote:
Agree with series with Canada. But what I think you need most is a local pro competition with 10-12 teams, US and Canadian based, that is the bread and butter to raise players from age grade to a level good enough to play test rugby. When you'll have such competition you'll have the structure to build upon a 6N or The Championship bid as you have the manpower and financial means. Also I agree about revenue.


Should MLR succeed, we'll be there. I'm more talking about what USAR can do. MLR is a commercial enterprise and the best thing for USAR to do is gtfo the way.

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Re: Options for Northern Hemisphere T2

Postby Higgik » Wed, 22 Nov 2017, 19:49

honestly_united wrote:You really have to have a 2 pronged attack to improve. You need a club system to develop players to the required standard for internationals, and a high standard of international matches to push forward at the top end.

Its about having a pathway for players to progress, and to be fair that isn’t cheap. You need the stepping stone of local club, to regional / pro club, international. Looking back (and in NZ this is how it still works I believe) to the amateur era, you had regional leagues, each with many local clubs. This is the back bone of the rugby community. These local clubs then provide the best players to the district team. You would have then selected the best players from the district teams for your national team. So players standing out in the club game, play at a higher level in the districts / regional games to develop their game, then those that shine their get selected for the national teams. Each level up is a higher standard. The professional era though has ruined this in many countries. The Celtic nations still have a semblance of this, in the clubs are assigned to a pro club / region, but it practice it works very differently now.

For me the one thing that would help all countries is a proper international window the same as football, where there are no club games allowed on certain dates, this would ensure that any players from Tier 2 countries are not faced with a club vs country dilemma. You just have to look at any match thread on here and there is always discussion about which players are not being released by there French clubs etc. IF there was no clash of fixtures then more countries would have their best players available. Maybe World Rugby could step in and look at paying compensation to clubs for players missing, and also the players if they are losing wages. You have to sympathise with the players, in rugby there are less than 100 clubs in Europe where you can make a proper living from playing rugby, so you don’t have much options if a club says they don’t want you to play international. In football, in England alone there are more than 100 clubs you can play full time at.

Ideally for Europe you would hope that all countries could have national either semi pro or lower level full time pro leagues, then 2 or 3 regional pro teams playing in multinational leagues. I am all in favour of adding in Spanish, Georgian, German, Romanian, US, Canada etc pro sides to the Pro 14. Ideally for example, you could have a team in Tblisi where you would have the best of the current Didi players, playing in an expanded pro 14 and for the national team you would combine that with the players currently playing at a high level France and England. The same approach could be used for a team in Bucharest, Vallodolid etc. I don’t think bring players back home is the correct route as its too expensive.

If you look at the current 6N countries, all of the pro clubs receive large handouts from their unions, and in the majority of the cases only survive through these handouts. The unions only have this money through playing the 6N’s and AI’s, and the TV & Sponsorship money this generates. If you take Scotland as an example, the SRU gives many millions each year to Glasgow & Edinburgh (my understanding is that it is ballpark of £5m to each). For Glasgow the majority of games are close to a sellout of 9000, the ticket prices are not cheap, though not overly expensive, they play as many games as you could reasonably fit into a season, yet although the players are getting paid as much as the club can afford, they are still losing players as teams in France and England can double wages. Yet this is a good thing as it give opportunities for players to come through as with only 2 pro teams we struggle to give players enough games to develop. We then have a semi pro in all but name national league below that, which the SRU are about to rip up, but that is for another discussion. These are used to give fringe players game time, and also help develop / identify up and coming players.

The international question is very different one to answer. I am all for a relegation game between 6N and REC to open the game, but then you have the problem of when to play the game. If you look at the summer and Autumn windows 2018’s game are already fixed for June, and probably being firmed up now for Autumn. If there was to be a play off game, how do you arrange this, without 12 countries having to keep dates in their schedule clear until April when they would know if they were in the play off or not. In reality this should not be an issue, as in this day and age bookng travel and accommodation, selling match tickets etc with 4 or 5 months notice should not be a problem.

The development of the regional tournaments is a must, but so is opening up the top end to. Ideally you could have the winners of a Asian tournament, Pacific, American and African playing off to get a place in the Championship at the same time as a 6N vs REC play off game

What you are suggesting is something similar to the American baseball and basketball system of having farm teams. Very important to all NH rugby is a consolidated season, so players can play in any country without suffering from missing internationals, but then teams would need to have greater parity with income.

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