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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Millar On World Rugby

Millar On  World Rugby

IRB Chairman Dr. Syd Millar has advocated a number of possible changes to the Rugby World Cup and the season structure in a wide ranging interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

The interview with Dr. Millar, by Rupert Guinness of the Herald, appears in today’s edition of the paper and covers possible changes to the structure of the Rugby World Cup – including a¬†mooted second competition for countries outside the top 16.

Rugby World Cup

“We have to look at the number of countries. I’ll stick my neck out and say we have to consider 16 teams,” he said..”It’s not realistic now for teams that are amateur or semi-professional to be playing against top professionals.”

“If we do that, we have to look at a secondary competition to provide the opportunity for the others to play in a tournament that is more relevant to their strengths,” he said. “England had a plan some time ago, [that was] not right, but along the lines of where you run a competition alongside the World Cup.”

Experimental Laws

A series of experimental law variations to be used in the Australian Rugby Championship will make rugby easier for players, referees and spectators but they should not be rushed into use at higher levels of the game such as the Super 14 according to Dr. Millar.

“We must be sure we just don’t change for the sake of change, that we change for a specific objective.”

“I am just concerned that we make sure that we get it right, or as right as we possibly can. They are not yet laws. They are [experimental variations]. So we have to consider them all first. Maybe one or we might have to tweak a bit.”

Season Structure

Dr. Millar also commented on the increase in the number of test matches in a season and the difficulties in a World Cup year when perceived “weakened teams” are fielded.

“There may be too many Tests. There’s no pleasure to anyone seeing weakened teams play. Less may be more,”

“We may have to look at some sort of competition, not on an annual basis, where we can make these matches more relevant.

“They really [are held] to generate income. We understand that perfectly, because players need to be paid, development costs have to be met.”

“People call it a ‘global calendar’. But you can’t have a global season. You can’t have all the Tests played in one period. It doesn’t work, for commercial reasons and all sorts of reasons,” Millar said.

“What we talk about is an integrated season, where we integrate the various competitions where everybody has their space. You have problems around the world because of the different structures.

“For instance, Ireland. They control their players on a central contract. England and France don’t. Thus, there is always arguments about availability of players, time they should be off, how many games they should play.”

“Everybody wants change, but they don’t want to change. We’ve had all sorts of working parties on this and have never really arrived at an agreement, because people are reluctant to change.

“If every structure were the same, it would be easy. We can’t satisfy everyone probably, but the first thing we have to do is determine [in a World Cup year] when Tests should take place and how many there should be.”