Are you being turned on to Rugby by the Six Nations ?

Virtually every day my email reminds me how few days remain until the World Cup, and proudly promises me the best World Cup ever. But on the evidence of the Six Nations so far it will take one hell of a leap of the imagination to believe that promise.
The Six Nations Championship is meant to be the shop window of European rugby union, the time for the casual rugby fan to pause and see if the product is one to catch the eye. And in a home World Cup year this is even more the case.

In my opinion the tournament is damaged goods. Those buying into rugby expect pace, excitement, some up-tempo sport – and tries… Instead the sport is relying on advertising and marketing to fool as many of the people for as much of the time as possible.
Perhaps the World Cup will be the biggest party, the best organised, and perhaps it will make the financial profits promised as the ad men flog the sport for all it is worth.
But the grim truth on the field is that the Six Nations is delivering some of the most static sport imaginable. Purists may have looked appreciatively at Ireland’s tactical mastery against England, but to this fan, putting my English rose to one side, there was nothing to entice me further into rugby’s tent to see what the sport has to offer.

Steve Hansen, the New Zealand Word Cup-winning coach, was in Europe a few weeks ago. He watched Wales’s 20-13 victory over France, and England’s 19-9 defeat by Ireland in Dublin. As a reward for the price of his air fare and match tickets Hansen saw three tries. He may have stopped short of asking for his money back, but in an interview with the Western Mail, the former Wales coach expressed his fears that spectators will be less likely to part with their money unless the game’s attacking talents are seen more often “I’ve actually got big concerns about the game at the moment, because there are not enough tries being scored, which is turning the fans away,” Hansen said.
There is seldom a time when rugby is not ruminating about some aspect or other of its arcane laws, but for a sport with ambitions of pushing back its participatory and geographical boundaries, Hansen’s words should strike a particularly harsh chord, with the World Cup only six months away.
“We are about to go into a showpiece for the game,” he said. “There are millions of people watching it and all you are going to see is people kick goals.”

Mike Miles

RWC2015 Tickets and Fan zones

Tickets for Rugby World Cup 2015 go on sale this month via Ticketmaster. Lets hope they don’t encounter the same technical problems experienced by the recent Commonwealth Games

The most controversial method to obtain tickets  ( and supposedly contrary to RWC 2015’s terms and conditions) is from travel and hospitality packages that have been on sale since the beginning of the year. Tickets have already found their way on to the secondary market at a huge markup – and no doubt others will follow after September.


RWC2015 have announced that most of the host cities will have Fan Zones,presumably similar to those at recent soccer World Cups.They have also said that venues will have dedicated Rugby World food and drink outlets serving dishes that celebrate the best of English cuisine and in some cases carry a rugby theme……..presumably at World Cup prices.

But  will fans be allowed to take their own food and drink into the stadium? Attending the World Cup in Germany in 2006 I can remember being forced to discard my bottles of water on a hot day before I could enter the stadium, and then being obliged to buy more inside to put more money into FIFA’s bulging coffers.


Mike Miles

Club v Country…..again

According to a report in The Rugby Paper Premiership rugby clubs are threatening to continue with their league programme throughout the World Cup in the autumn of 2015. A condition of England’s successful World Cup bid was that there was no elite competitive rugby during the tournament, which would mean the Premiership starting as late as November.

But Premiership Rugby are reportedly upset with the RFU because they weren’t consulted over the bid for the World Cup, and if they have to take an enforced break during September and October 2015, it would mean clubs facing a five-month period without any match-day income.

It is claimed each club is set to lose £1.2million and a compensation package of £14milliom from the RFU has been sought. The Union have offered £6million. Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen likened the situation as “going back to the bad old days of serfdom.” The World Cup was an agreement between the IRB and RFU to which the clubs were not a party,  so ” to simply expect us to close down our businesses is simply not acceptable.”

One feels that there is too much at stake on both sides for there not to be a compromise.The clubs have already started talks with the RFU about renewing the elite-player agreement which runs out in 2016. This has worked better than anyone from either side imagined when it was signed in 2008 after years of acrimony and trips to the High Court

One hopes the current dispute will be settled without recourse to our legal friends…..