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Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournaments

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Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournaments

Unread postby The Do » Wed, 22 Apr 2020, 23:54

I remember in 2013 Sri Lanka hosted a mini tournament between themselves, Poland and Madagascar. I think it was partly funded by the WR. I was wondering why more of these types of tournaments haven’t been played? I know there was the “Nations Cup” with “emerging” and “B” teams included, but wouldn’t 4 national teams playing in the one country eg hosted by Romania with say (teams that wouldn’t get T1 games) Uruguay, Kenya and Samoa playing each other over 3 weekends, be a better tournament?

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Armchair Fan » Thu, 23 Apr 2020, 00:31

There was Cup of Nations in Hong Kong for some years.

The main issue about these tournaments is you prevent national teams from gathering crowds at home and rivals aren't that attractive for hosting fans. When was the last time we saw a decent crowd in Nations Cup?

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Blurandski » Thu, 23 Apr 2020, 02:00

Expensive and hard to promote.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby thatrugbyguy » Thu, 23 Apr 2020, 05:51

It's like everything from this organisation.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Thu, 23 Apr 2020, 05:59

This is the format that Asia Rugby uses for all of its divisions below the top division.
In the Americas this is the format of Americas Rugby Challenge, and of course Uruguay are the hosts of Nations Cup.
World Rugby use this format for the Pacific Rugby Challenge.
It's a good format for reducing travel costs but the down side is for half the games there is no home team and therefore no crowd. However a better way to reduce travel costs is to not travel so far.
Poland and Madagascar don't need to travel to another continent to find opposition of a similar standard. Nations Cup is tier 2 teams from Europe, Africa and South America. Africa and Asia each only have one tier 2 team so for them to play another tier 2 team someone needs to travel. Tier 3 teams have plenty of other tier 3 teams to play without intercontinental travel.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Canalina » Thu, 23 Apr 2020, 06:32

I remember also a "Friendship Cup" between islamic nations, in Malaysia: the final match was played in front of few dozens spectators on mobil chairs and concluded in advance by a bloody fight between the players.
The already remembered Slk/Pol/Mad cup in Sri Lanka, despite some promotion in the newspapers and the presence of the national president at the inauguration game, attracted less spectators than many of the local national championship games usually do (I think).
It's also because of these examples that I'm always skeptical when I hear talking about promoting T2 rugby like it was an easy task.
There are few examples of T2 games gathering big crowd, I think: some Africa Cup matches, some games in Georgia, partially some games in Madrid, sometime the games in Poland... In Brazil you may have 15,000 spectators for a largely promoted match and 500 spectators in the subsequent game.
It's like in 7s, where you have some super-popular World Series tournaments and at the opposite some continental tournaments where at the morning sessions you may count one by one the (bored) spectators. Or like rugby in Italy, where you have the national team gathering 50,000 spectators and the national championship gathering 500.
There's something like an invisible but hard-to-break membrane between popular rugby events and not popular ones.
And it's not easy to understand how to infringe it.
A first explanation, maybe gross, could be that rugby is not an easy game for people not used to it: you may pass just backward, there are a lot of rules not easy to learn, a lot of whistles with consequent broken game, a lot of midfield tackles and few tries.
But there are surely other factors creating that membrane; just it's not easy to identify them

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 04:55

Canalina wrote:I remember also a "Friendship Cup" between islamic nations, in Malaysia: the final match was played in front of few dozens spectators on mobil chairs and concluded in advance by a bloody fight between the players.
The already remembered Slk/Pol/Mad cup in Sri Lanka, despite some promotion in the newspapers and the presence of the national president at the inauguration game, attracted less spectators than many of the local national championship games usually do (I think).
It's also because of these examples that I'm always skeptical when I hear talking about promoting T2 rugby like it was an easy task.
There are few examples of T2 games gathering big crowd, I think: some Africa Cup matches, some games in Georgia, partially some games in Madrid, sometime the games in Poland... In Brazil you may have 15,000 spectators for a largely promoted match and 500 spectators in the subsequent game.
It's like in 7s, where you have some super-popular World Series tournaments and at the opposite some continental tournaments where at the morning sessions you may count one by one the (bored) spectators. Or like rugby in Italy, where you have the national team gathering 50,000 spectators and the national championship gathering 500.
There's something like an invisible but hard-to-break membrane between popular rugby events and not popular ones.
And it's not easy to understand how to infringe it.
A first explanation, maybe gross, could be that rugby is not an easy game for people not used to it: you may pass just backward, there are a lot of rules not easy to learn, a lot of whistles with consequent broken game, a lot of midfield tackles and few tries.
But there are surely other factors creating that membrane; just it's not easy to identify them


I like your membrane theory. These are some of the factors at play in my opinion. A lot of the factors are linked.

The first explanation that you give about spectators not understanding the rules I am sure is one factor. I am sure that a large proportion of spectators at popular tier 1 rugby matches don't understand the rules, but they will probably be sitting near someone who does. This factor relates to knowledge. I think it is probably very difficult to get a large proportion of a population to understand rugby. Where rugby is a national sport, or a regional sport in a country, people will have some idea of the purpose and rules of the game from playing it at school and from watching it on TV. This is where exposure to rugby needs to be.

The second factor is the cultural importance of the rugby match. Many rugby matches are important cultural events. People are there for the event as much as for the sport. Tradition and local or national rivalries are important. With these mini tournaments there is no tradition and no historic rivalry. Regional tournaments are much better because there will be rivalries, and if the tournament is repeated every year a tradition will start to be formed. ARC, MLR and SLAR will start to develop some cultural importance but it takes years, generations in fact.

In my opinion, World Rugby should aim to make rugby a national sport or at least a regional sport of every tier 2 country, and set up regional tournaments with annual matches which become major important cultural events. Portugal vs Spain should be one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Iberia, like Wales vs England in the Six Nations.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby sk 88 » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 08:19

Italy, Scotland, Samoa and SA played a mini-one during one of the Lions summers (2013 I think).

I thought it was a cracking idea to make those summer games more interesting and get a bit of T1 v T2 crossover.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 09:21

sk 88 wrote:Italy, Scotland, Samoa and SA played a mini-one during one of the Lions summers (2013 I think).

I thought it was a cracking idea to make those summer games more interesting and get a bit of T1 v T2 crossover.


That was in South Africa. It was called a Quadrangular tournament, with three tier 1 teams and one tier 2 team. That is a good format and definitely something South Africa should do again. It is really good for the tier 2 team involved.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby RugbyLiebe » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 09:32

I think that these tournaments need to have a real meaning. "Nations cup" says not that important to neutral fans. Just throwing different nations with no connections in one place and let them play doesn't create anything (and for the good of rugby I would hope that this would be different).
Playing for a World cup, a continental cup etc. makes a difference and creates interest.

Tours can work to a degree, but only if those countries have a sports rivalry like the German tour to Brazil.
How to grow rugby worldwide?
Look at the world ranking in July. Teams ranked 1-10 have to play one team from 11-20 (they don't play in a regular competition) away the next year. 11-20 play 21-30 away and so on. Yes, it really is that simple.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 11:24

Argentina, Uruguay, Fiji and Italy would be a good Quadrangular tournament to be hosted in South America. Much better than the Nations Cup. I do think the Nations Cup has a future but I think that Uruguay is ready to move to the next level. Nations Cup could be moved to Brazil.
Brazil, Namibia, Russia, Argentina XV.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 14:03

The only reason to have mini tournaments is to cut costs. They mean very little for fans and you waste dates that teams could be playing at home.

Home matches are the most important thing for any country wanting to grow. Opportunity to connect to fans, local media (specialy for countries where rugby is small) and sponsors. Mini tournaments dont offer this for 3 of the 4 teams involved. They are not good for promotion.
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 14:52

victorsra wrote:The only reason to have mini tournaments is to cut costs. They mean very little for fans and you waste dates that teams could be playing at home.

Home matches are the most important thing for any country wanting to grow. Opportunity to connect to fans, local media (specialy for countries where rugby is small) and sponsors. Mini tournaments dont offer this for 3 of the 4 teams involved. They are not good for promotion.


Would you like to see the Nations Cup in Sao Paulo?

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 15:12

It would be great for Brazil, but not great for the others.
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 16:09

There is a hierarchy and it does include mini tournaments.

Regional mini tournaments for tier 3 dev 2 teams (e.g. Americas Rugby Challenge, Asia Rugby tournaments below Asia Rugby Championship)

Regional Championships for tier 2 and tier 3 dev 2 (e.g. Americas Rugby Championship, Asia Rugby Championship, REC, Pacific Nations Cup).

Nations Cup, mini tournament for tier 2 teams and tier 1 A teams.

Tier 1 Championships (Six Nations, The Rugby Championship).

I think the strongest tier 2 teams should now start playing in quadrangular tournaments with tier 1 teams. Teams like Fiji, Tonga, Uruguay and Georgia. These teams should start to be treated as tier 1 teams. And tier 3 development 1 teams like Belgium and Brazil can start playing in the Nations Cup.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 16:37

Nations Cup-like mini tournaments are NOT in the same logic of the 6N, TRC, ARC or REC. Those competitions have home and away matches for everybody. In the other hand, the Nations Cup dont offer home matches for most of the teams and use the space of tests matches. Of course for an European nations an away Nations Cup in July is the same thing of an away tests series. But for any other continent it isn't. For any serious union, a home test match is much more important than 3 away Nations Cup matches.

Playing at home is MUCH more important to attract new fans, sponsors and media. An away Nations Cup doesn't do that.
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Higgik » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 16:59

One good example would be the Churchill Cup.
Should be an 5 team event with A teams of Eng, Scot and Wales, with USA and Canada. Hold in Summer and have alternate hosts, UK then NA.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:02

In the North American perspective, I dont believe the Churchill Cup revival would do any good. Usa and Canada can host proper tests, with ranking value, and some against T1 nations. Matches against "A" teams wont attract new fans, sponsors or media. It is a waste of dates. "A" teams can be good in some cases, to complete proper tournaments (Argentina XV for example, ARC dates against them couldn't be used to play more interestig fixture). But not in a situation that they use dates WR offer for proper tests.
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:18

victorsra wrote:Nations Cup-like mini tournaments are NOT in the same logic of the 6N, TRC, ARC or REC. Those competitions have home and away matches for everybody. In the other hand, the Nations Cup dont offer home matches for most of the teams and use the space of tests matches. Of course for an European nations an away Nations Cup in July is the same thing of an away tests series. But for any other continent it isn't. For any serious union, a home test match is much more important than 3 away Nations Cup matches.

Playing at home is MUCH more important to attract new fans, sponsors and media. An away Nations Cup doesn't do that.


The primary purpose of the Nations Cup is to provide tier 2 teams and tier 1 A teams with some competitive matches, not to attract fans and sponsors.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:26

And that's what's wrong. You have a very limited amount of dates (and money) available to do both things separately. You must have solutions that ally both. To exclude fans/sponsors/media is obviously not a good alternative, a non starter. You don't realy improve a team without money. And you don't get money without fans and sponsors

(btw, sponsors usualy depend on fans, but not always, as you can have a patron... but this is not sustainable and can be mixed with money laundry and other moody intentions :? ...).
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Armchair Fan » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:38

To say it in other words. A Nations Cup may cost X to World Rugby in flights and accommodation for Tier 2 teams and proper tours X+Y+Z. But Y+Z should stop being seen as simply costs and more about an investment to create buzz in the country, gather crowds, etc, etc...

Yes, there can be some abysmal attendances if local union doesn't do its proper job, but at least it gives an opportunity for the sport and the national team to grow at home, not simply giving games.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:42

Apart from any World League project, the tours system is the best one if you can articulate that making half of the Top ~25-30 countries to travel in july and host in november or the opposite. The problem is most countries depend on WR $, but WR struggles to centraly direct those tests in a more organized way, to make sure everybody is properly involved. It is improving, but still lacking a proper system behind.

To make it work, you need a determined number of teams involved in each region. The ideal scenario would be, for exemple, 3 Europeans travelling to South America to face Chile, Uruguay and Brazil, and those 3 South Americans going to Europe in november to offer the same. Another 3 Europeans woud also have to travel Africa and play 3 Africans, while 3 Asians could go to North America and so on. However, each continent has a different number of competitive countries which make it difficult to adjust. To make it happen, you need to do in Asia-Oceania and Africa what ARC did in the Americas, improve the number of competitive nations.Maybe the REC expansion to 8 teams could also be good for such system too. If you could involve all Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland in tests always (not only Georgia, Spain, Romania, Russia...), all continents win. "A" teams could help in such scenarios, but those single-host mini tournaments can't replace tours. That's counter productive IMO.

In the end, if WR would invest more money in such tours, national unions need to make it worth those home matches - and not all of them are good in marketing (or some countries don't have a proper economic environment)...
Last edited by victorsra on Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:48, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 17:44

Armchair Fan wrote:To say it in other words. A Nations Cup may cost X to World Rugby in flights and accommodation for Tier 2 teams and proper tours X+Y+Z. But Y+Z should stop being seen as simply costs and more about an investment to create buzz in the country, gather crowds, etc, etc...

Yes, there can be some abysmal attendances if local union doesn't do its proper job, but at least it gives an opportunity for the sport and the national team to grow at home, not simply giving games.


Bingo. And the major issue probably lies in the hability of the unions to make events worth....
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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby Chester-Donnelly » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 18:15

With SLAR, ARC and REC, European and South American teams are already playing plenty of tier 2 level teams. In the test windows the stronger teams should be playing tier 1 teams not more tier 2 teams or they'll never improve.

Southern African teams, Namibia and Zimbabwe should be playing against teams like Southern Kings and Griquas, and north African teams should be playing against RET teams or French Federale 1 teams.

This is my objection to the World League and why I talk about there being a hierarchy. What is the point of travelling thousands of miles for a game of rugby against a mediocre team in front of 300 spectators, when you could travel a few hundred miles to play a professional team in the next country?

Player welfare, timezones, cost control, carbon emissions and spreading coronavirus are all being ignored. Below tier 1 and upper tier 2 level there is no real need or justification for intercontinental travel.

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Re: Is there a reason why WR has not promoted mini tournamen

Unread postby victorsra » Fri, 24 Apr 2020, 18:19

You can take Brazil and the best and worst exemple of this process.

Until 2014, Brazil was nobody. Access to a better competition (ARC) and the CBRu work to make events happen (the sevens tournaments were boosted by Rio 2016, but you can't credit 15s events on Rio 2016...) made Brazil have good events with attendance between 3 and 11k people (very good for our previous reality).

In the 2000s, events were rare. Brazil played ZERO home matches in the South American Championship between 2009 and 2013 (Brazil played the 2nd division between 2000 and 2008...). That offered very few opportunities to grow.

However, CBRu started to invest a bigger % of its revenues in the national team and created a horrible split with club/amateur rugby. What happened? People stopped attending Tupis matches, like the terrible Spain and Romania matches showed us. Only the big (exceptional) events stayed a different reality (Maoris, Barbarians). You need events to attract fans, but you need to balance your investment/attention with community rugby. You need results, but you can't do too much sacrifices to achieve them. There lies the hability of having a proper amateur and junior rugby system well placed and, with it, the Union can make smarter investments in the top, in order to improve. We were doing agreessive but not smart investments.

In the end, nobody has the truth about what to do. There is no perfect model. But there are some paths that lead you to better realities.
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