Tier 2 & 3 Rugby Forum

Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 20:17

Yes, that's a perfect question: how to define T1? Only number of clubs/players? Local structure as well? International scene counted too?

IMO, T1 is a political definition. At the moment, who has 3 votes in the Council. In the past, the 8 IRB members. Now, Japan is a Tier 1.5 (2 votes, exceptional situation), while Argentina and Italy became T1 recently. But, domestic rugby in Argentina and Japan was never realy behind T1s during the history, which means the best definition for them is maybe dormant or standy-by-T1s, because what made them different was just political power. As well maybe national teams results (for Japan, not reaaaly for Argentina), but they were playing those T1s before becoming politicaly T1 anyway. And that's the big difference to Sri Lanka and Madagascar. As for Italy, in the amateur era they struggled some years against Portugal, Spain, Morocco, was regularly beaten by Romania and USSR...

To be fair, I'm right now looking at a 1981 book (Terry Godwin, Chris Rhys, The Guinness Book of Rugby Facts & Feats) that says this in terms of number of clubs/players, and maybe I'm realy wrong about Italy. They show these numbers:

- England - 1.700 clubs, 300.000 players
- South Africa - 1.000 clubs, 215.000 players (counting blacks and coloureds? not sure)
- Japan - 3.000 clubs, 180.000 players
- France - 1.700 clubs, 170.000 players
- New Zealand - 1.000 clubs, 170.000 players
- USA - 1.000 clubs, 45.000 players
- Soviet Union - 222 clubs, 45.000 players
- Wales - 578 clubs, 40.000 players
- Scotland - 250 clubs, 25.000 players
- Argentina - 197 clubs, 17.000 players (1984 official data, it is probably more than this: https://web.archive.org/web/20121101074 ... s/1984.pdf)
- Italy - 265 clubs (more than I thought!!!!), 15.000 players
- Romania - 197 clubs, 13.400 players
- Spain - 147 clubs, 11.100 players
- Australia - 250 clubs, 10.000 players
- Ireland - 210 clubs, 10.000 players
- Canada - 192 clubs, 9.800 players
...
- Madagascar - 10 clubs, 450 players
No numbers for Sri Lanka

Like nowadays, those numbers are definitly problematic, without proper criterea to who counts as a club or a player. But, interesting, right? Anyway, rugby has a census problem


When we connect national teams results in the amateur era with those numbers, Argentina beat:

- Australia in 1979, 1983, 1987
- England in 1990 (and a draw in 1981 + aonther draw in 1979 against a "England XV"... and we know those "XV" didn't meant realy "A")
- France in 1985, 1986, 1988, 1992 (a draw in 1977)
- Ireland "XV" in 1970 twice;
- Scotland twice in 1994 (and Scotland "XV" in 1969)
- Wales "XV" in 1968 (+ a draw in the same year)

Plus a draw with the All Blacks in 1985 and that win against the Springboks as "Jaguares" in 1982...

So, how the hell was Argentina T2???

They were just not having proper tests oportunities. As they weren't IRB members. As IRB wasn't realy an international federation before the RWC.

if Japan's domestic rugby was never really behind the t1s how was the domestic US rugby behind?

Probably something to do with rugby as a not so serious students thing.
Last edited by victorsra on Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 21:10, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 20:53

Oh, bingo. Found the 1984 Argentina Rugby Union report that says 375 teams in 58 clubs: https://web.archive.org/web/20121101074 ... s/1984.pdf 333 in 1981, that book's year. So, yeah, those number of that book aren't right... Just edited the previous posts. Not sure if they count players and clubs from all provincial unions BTW.
Last edited by victorsra on Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 21:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby iul » Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 21:05

Ok. Take the US then. Let's suppose MLR dies but they leave a legacy of a few good academies that churn out talent that's snapped up by European clubs so much so that the US becomes competitive against t1s and have a 30% win rate against them. Is the US not a t1 for you in this scenario?

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 21:08

For me T1 is political, whoever has 3 votes and shares of major organizations. But obviously a 30% victory rate against T1s is better than some T1s... has Scotland 30% in the past 10 years?

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Thu, 01 Oct 2020, 21:13

If you want a conclusion, "T1" and "T2" is just a bad concept. And "emerging" too. "Old Cartellian" is much more accurate :lol: "T1" just sounds more meritocratic :roll:

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby TheStroBro » Fri, 02 Oct 2020, 04:59

victorsra wrote:
TheStroBro wrote:What makes a Tier 1 Nation today is the size of their budget and how much revenue they generate in addition to not being reliant upon WRs HP Development grants.

Not sure if I agree. How much Japan has?

It is very much about power: votes in WR council, shares of major organizations (SANZAAR, 6N Ltd, EPCR...) and, therefore, this coincides with money.



Japan is gaining it's third vote because it meets the budgeting and revenue criteria. A couple of years ago it was 20M pounds. Aka, self-supporting unions that are also competitive.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Grayday88 » Fri, 02 Oct 2020, 08:46

Saw this article about Super Rugby’s demise. Whilst the writer is drawing a comparison to football I believe that the same could be true of Pro 16

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footb ... -suit.html

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Fri, 02 Oct 2020, 16:53

TheStroBro wrote:
victorsra wrote:
TheStroBro wrote:What makes a Tier 1 Nation today is the size of their budget and how much revenue they generate in addition to not being reliant upon WRs HP Development grants.

Not sure if I agree. How much Japan has?

It is very much about power: votes in WR council, shares of major organizations (SANZAAR, 6N Ltd, EPCR...) and, therefore, this coincides with money.



Japan is gaining it's third vote because it meets the budgeting and revenue criteria. A couple of years ago it was 20M pounds. Aka, self-supporting unions that are also competitive.

But Russia and Hong Kong have bigger budgets than most 1-vote-T2s and they have zero votes... BTW, bigger than Italy or Argentina, no?

Money and power are usualy the same thing, specialy in a capitalist world, but not 100%. They are still different things, no matter how much they coincide.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby TheStroBro » Fri, 02 Oct 2020, 17:25

There are relatively objective standards for gaining a vote on the World Council as a Tier 2. And it's all based on competition. Back to Back appearances in World Cups, with that though they can also yank your vote. (E.g. Romania was at risk of losing theirs) Apparently your books can be a mess and your Union can be run by the corrupt. (Samoa and Fiji)

To gain Tier 1 status it also seems relatively objective, you have to be competitive with Tier 1s and your books cannot be a mess. You have to be financially self-sustaining.

Hong Kong hasn't had recent back to back performances in the World Cup so count them out.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Fri, 02 Oct 2020, 18:40

Yes, I know, just saying that budget isn't the only thing for Tiers.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby NaBUru38 » Wed, 07 Oct 2020, 21:05

TheStroBro wrote: To gain Tier 1 status it also seems relatively objective, you have to be competitive with Tier 1s and your books cannot be a mess. You have to be financially self-sustaining.

Yes... in men's XV.

Canada has performed very well in women's XV and 7s, and Fiji in men's 7s, but are not classified as tier 1.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby thatrugbyguy » Thu, 08 Oct 2020, 03:35

TheStroBro wrote:There are relatively objective standards for gaining a vote on the World Council as a Tier 2. And it's all based on competition. Back to Back appearances in World Cups, with that though they can also yank your vote. (E.g. Romania was at risk of losing theirs) Apparently your books can be a mess and your Union can be run by the corrupt. (Samoa and Fiji)

To gain Tier 1 status it also seems relatively objective, you have to be competitive with Tier 1s and your books cannot be a mess. You have to be financially self-sustaining.

Hong Kong hasn't had recent back to back performances in the World Cup so count them out.


The rate Australia are going we'll be T2 by June next year.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby TheStroBro » Thu, 08 Oct 2020, 05:11

NaBUru38 wrote:
TheStroBro wrote: To gain Tier 1 status it also seems relatively objective, you have to be competitive with Tier 1s and your books cannot be a mess. You have to be financially self-sustaining.

Yes... in men's XV.

Canada has performed very well in women's XV and 7s, and Fiji in men's 7s, but are not classified as tier 1.


Canada and Fiji are not self-sustaining unions though.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby ihateblazers » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 07:08

Figaro wrote:
ihateblazers wrote:


Why is it the Celtic sides' responsibility to fix Italy, or anyone else? Treviso at least have a bigger budget than Connacht (and perform accordingly) or 3/4 Welsh teams. Italy are an equal partner in the league and in the 6N. What exactly are the other unions expected to do and why exactly is it their responsibility?


A late reply, but it is in their interest to do so and to grow the Italian market and other markets. The Celts have decided to engage with the South African's precisely because they are a small market and cannot sustain their international top down model otherwise.

You see it in American sports where the new teams are given advantages to compete with the player market. Marketing is heavily centralised in those sports and the domestic league's of football and French/English rugby, whilst it is a dog's breakfast in the Pro 14 with no cohesion. In comparison, the Celtic board made the Italian's pay to compete and left them to their own devices. If they are serious about going down the route of Italian involvement they should be making the most of it. Whether they like it or not this the route that the celtic unions are on. They have to think like a league, not as individual unions running in all directions. This is one of the mistakes SANZAR made. Otherwise, if the Pro X just stays along it's current path there is no point in Italian involvement apart from 6 nations competitiveness and I am deeply skeptical of the commercial red herring of South Africa's involvement, especially long term.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby andyrobnev » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 09:21

The Celtic unions will benefit from greater Italian interest in rugby. Also Italy is doing enough to sort out its own problems. Their under 20 programme is performing very well which will cause the strength and depth of the player base to improve. It will take time for that to reach the national team and Zebre, but at least it has already happened for Benneton (who have also seen improvements in their attendance). There is still a long way to go, but I’m confident that improvement is happening. This time 3 years ago I wouldn’t have had that confidence.

When the South African teams inevitably end up leaving the Pro (could be a few years or a decade) to form their own domestic competition with access to the European cup competitions, it would be good if Italy could support more teams (Milan and Rome hopefully) as there is still a lot of potential there.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 13:09

Why inevitably?

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby andyrobnev » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 13:42

South Africa wants external competition, but they don’t necessarily need the Pro to give them that. They’d be far better suited to just having their own domestic competition (even if it’s only 6 teams) and competing in the European Champions Cup - which would give them 16 regular rounds plus domestic finals and Euro quarter/semi/finals (which is a number similar to what Super 15 used to provide them with). They’ll be net contributors to the Pro in terms of TV money, and will probably sooner rather than later start asking what they get in return. I think the end game is to have at least 4 automatic qualifiers to the European Champions Cup and guaranteed spots for however many teams they have extra for the Challenge Cup. The Kings have just been liquidated, but the Griquas and Pumas are both interested in elevating their status while Cheetahs are more than good enough to compete. All of this is why I think that it is inevitable that SA teams will leave the Pro within a decade.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 13:53

I see your logic, it makes sense, but we don't know yet how much will South Africa mean for PROX in contracts. Remember the currencies differences. South African Rand doesn't much value for European pockets. Which means the opposite can become true: South African needing PROX more. And who said Top 14 and Premiership clubs will want South African in EPCR? For English and French clubs, it is better if South African franchises stay poor, to make it easy to hire Springboks...

So, it is a possibility, but not an inevitability.
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Figaro » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 16:33

I think more likely is that the Welsh and possibly Scottish sides will jump ship to join a British system. The Irish like the Pro14 but will see the writing on the wall if that happens, leaving the south Africans and Italy in the cold.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 16:44

I agree it's not inevitable. Some countries are naturally inward looking and others are outward looking. For example I don't expect Japan to have foreign teams in its new professional competition because Japan prefers to keep things just Japanese if it can. South Africa, however, always looks overseas to Britain, Europe and Australia. South Africa could certainly run a domestic professional rugby competition but South Africa craves contact with the wider world so I think it will always be involved in an intercontinental league.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 16:55

The question for South Africa is economic viability. They are experiencing what South American soccer experienced in the 1990s. Until ther 1980s we had our best players in our clubs. But the economic eovlution of global soccer made South America start losing the players. Just a few in the 1980s, but loads in the 1990s and in the 2000s we had lost the battle. But our domestic soccer is still viable. Brazilian Championship is still a top 10 league in the world in revenue and strenght. But national team players are mostly in Europe.

So, what South Africa wants? They will try to have revenue enough to keep the majority of their Springboks at Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers or they will accept a "South American soccer reality"? If they decided to only operate a domestic league, they'd be accepting that "South American soccer reality". I think they still believe they can keep the most Springboks.

Anyway, this question is also to be posed to South African public. Would South Africans still follow their teams without Springbok players? South American soccer fans did. But in the 2010s we saw a growing interest of young fans in European clubs. The reality of someone only supporting an European club NEVER existed here. It was always about our clubs. But now you see some people changing interests. For how long time will this be sustainable? Many questions.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby thatrugbyguy » Wed, 14 Oct 2020, 06:37

South Africa are in a tough position and have been even before Super Rugby's demise.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby ihateblazers » Wed, 14 Oct 2020, 14:10

victorsra wrote:The question for South Africa is economic viability. They are experiencing what South American soccer experienced in the 1990s. Until ther 1980s we had our best players in our clubs. But the economic eovlution of global soccer made South America start losing the players. Just a few in the 1980s, but loads in the 1990s and in the 2000s we had lost the battle. But our domestic soccer is still viable. Brazilian Championship is still a top 10 league in the world in revenue and strenght. But national team players are mostly in Europe.

So, what South Africa wants? They will try to have revenue enough to keep the majority of their Springboks at Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers or they will accept a "South American soccer reality"? If they decided to only operate a domestic league, they'd be accepting that "South American soccer reality". I think they still believe they can keep the most Springboks.

Anyway, this question is also to be posed to South African public. Would South Africans still follow their teams without Springbok players? South American soccer fans did. But in the 2010s we saw a growing interest of young fans in European clubs. The reality of someone only supporting an European club NEVER existed here. It was always about our clubs. But now you see some people changing interests. For how long time will this be sustainable? Many questions.


That’s a great analysis and I think you hit the nail on the head with the South American football comparison. One thing I’d bring up with football is that European clubs are a global phenomenon. We have no such appeal in club rugby whatsoever.

In rugby’s case, if the core fans are not happy with pro rugby they will just play/watch/volunteer their local rugby for the season and watch international rugby. Casual viewers will just watch something else. You’d have to seriously question if their core fans are actually interested in watching their teams face European‘s. The crowds at the Cheetahs and Kings have been woeful.

I think they will have to face the inevitability that they cannot hope to keep springboks in their country with their nations economic reality. If the celts, South Africans and New Zealander’s realised their situation and relinquished to market forces and stopped plugging the hole, maybe that would result in a harder push for greater alignment in the calendar between club and international which would also benefit T2.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Wed, 14 Oct 2020, 14:25

Yes, I agree. South African fans would have less motivation to support an European rugby club than Brazilians with European football clubs. Maybe the better comparison is Russian ice hockey or Japanese baseball.

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