x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

World Cup is the top competition in rugby - no contest

Other competitions have lost their lustre in the process, but that is just tough luck.

Those who opposed the decision to set up a World Cup in rugby, back in the mid-1980s, had a point.

Yes, it would give a more definitive idea of who the best side in the game were at that point in time, but so much else in the sport would become immediately devalued.

For example, it was argued that tournaments like the Six (formerly Five) Nations would lose much of its appeal. Which, in many ways, is what has happened.

So England won Europe's main competition this year, but their achievement was diluted by the fact they lost out to Ireland at the last - and after all, they will never win the World Cup playing like that.

The Tri Nations tournament, played between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, was inaugurated years after the World Cup, but it still suffers by comparison.

South Africa this week had to play down claims they had demeaned the southern hemisphere's main competition by leaving behind 21 injured players from their trip to Australia. It was then said the same players re-emerged at a secret training camp in Rustenberg, while the national team were being beaten in Australia.

The Springbok coaches called the reports mischievous and a hoax, but they should not have to defend themselves.

The World Cup is the most important tournament in rugby, so they should be allowed to prepare for it however they see fit. If the Tri Nations suffers in the fallout, tough luck.


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