x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Seven-a-side Six Nations would be interesting

The abbreviated rugby code had the best possible advertisement at the weekend, in the form of the dire fare on offer in the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) could probably not have picked a better week to announce its latest plans for advancing the sevens game.

With a view to the format's debut at the 2016 Olympics, the IRB has announced a new qualification process by which all countries can now plot their way to becoming a core side in the World Sevens Series. The status quo at the top of sevens will probably remain for some time yet. But at least the sides who have hitherto been making up the numbers can now earn real value from performing well in regional competition.

The timing of the announcement was fitting. The abbreviated code had the best possible advertisement at the weekend, in the form of the dire fare on offer in the 15-man version on the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

England against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup was so listless, it was a complete turn off.

The problem was exacerbated for television viewers in the Middle East, when Al Jazeera opted to show Italian football rather than Ireland against Wales - the only fixture worth watching on the opening weekend of Europe's showpiece competition.

After a Rugby World Cup which may admittedly have been well organised, yet was low on drama on the field, XVs rugby could really do with an entertaining Six Nations. The format is flagging at present. Take away a couple of players from each side and call it rugby league. Or just cut the teams by eight.

pradley@thenational.ae