Thursday, 28 March 2019

Days of the Jackal numbered?

Another measure apparently being considered by World Rugby following last week’s player welfare symposium in Paris is to prevent any player arriving at the breakdown from playing the ball with their hands.

This would effectively end "the jackal" as we know it.

Finally World Rugby are listening to me!!

The proposal is clearly being considered with player safety in mind, with the likes of Sam Warburton and David Pocock - both world class jackals - having suffered long term injuries caused by heavy hits taken to the back and neck while in an exposed position competing for the ball at at the breakdown. Is it any wonder that these players, who clamp themselves over the ball with head and neck exposed while the opposition smash into them in an attempt to remove them by any and all means necessary, suffer long term damage?

Back in my day (here we go go again), when I last played in anger in the 80s and 90s, the jackal didn't actually exist. When you were tackled you had to release the ball immediately - none of this rolling around for a few seconds and placing the ball back - while anyone arriving at the breakdown was required to drive over both the ball and any prone player. No hands were allowed, but there was still plenty of competition for possession. Yes, there would be the occasional/regular boot to the body (and occasionally worse), but wounds tended to be mostly superficial rather than the high impact, long-term injuries prevalent today.

I'm not sure when that all changed, when locking on to the ball with your hands after a tackle first became permitted and then encouraged, but there is no doubt that the physical punishment taken by today's jackals is far more severe than the the occasional boot to the body.

So, while any change to the laws aimed at driving the jackal out of rugby would, of course, fundamentally alter the game as it is played now, I don't think that would be a bad thing. The contest for possession would not disappear, only change in its nature.

And rugby would be a darned sight safer.




Sunday, 24 March 2019

New law trials on the horizon for Rugby

A few interesting bits and pieces to come out of last week's three-day player welfare and law symposium in Paris, with World Rugby considering a handful of radical proposals for new laws to be trialled after the World Cup.

With player safety at the forefront, French amateur rugby will trial a new approach to the tackle laws, with the height of a legal tackle being lowered to the waistline and the two-man tackle being outlawed. There is no doubt that such an approach would fundamentally change the game, making it easier to break through tackles and to offload. This may or may not improve the game and it may or may not prove safer - although logically it makes sense - but unless you try these things you'll never know.

Another morsel of interest is the proposed introduction of a "50-22" law whereby the attacking team is awarded the throw-in at a lineout when the ball is kicked from within their own half and bounces into touch inside the opponent’s 22. The idea is that defenders would need to drop back to defend the kick and leave more space in the defensive line, ergo fewer collisions. It may work (although beware of unintended consequences) and it may not - but, again, probably worth a try...


Saturday, 23 March 2019

The Total Flanker Guide to: Being an Alickadoo

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Alickadoo as:
"A person who is attached to or associated with a rugby game or club but does not play, especially an administrative official or committee member."
I am a person attached to or associated with a rugby club (in my capacity as a coach of a club Under 16 team) who does not play.

I am not, however, an Alickadoo - at least not yet. I do, however, have aspirations in that direction.

The definition of an Alickadoo is quite correct when it makes reference to administrative officials and committee members but there are a few things that the definition omits:

1. The Blazer

A blazer, preferably in club colours, is the staple uniform of any self-respecting Alickadoo and is to be worn on an almost permanent basis and definitely whenever within a 2 mile radius of the clubhouse. This is vitally important - after all, what is the point of being an Alickadoo if you can't be identified as such. It's not for nothing that club Alickadoos are often collectively referred to as "the Blazers." I don't have a club blazer. I must buy one or, if none exists, invent one.

2. Clubhouse residency

Another characteristic of any Alickadoo is that they spend every spare waking hour at the clubhouse. Effectively, whenever the clubhouse is open the Alickadoo is expected to be there, positioned in very close proximity to the bar, alcoholic beverage of choice in hand. Maintenance of this constant presence is key to everyone understanding just how important you are, although side effects may include inevitable insolvency, liver failure and marital difficulties. An understanding spouse is therefore hugely advantageous. This may be my biggest challenge.

3. Talking a good game

It is impossible to be an Alickadoo unless you have the capacity to regale anyone who will listen, and even those that won't, with stories and anecdotes about how marvellous rugby was in your day, about games you've played in and tours you've been on and about certain long-gone club characters who no one else can remember as well as proffering your considered opinion on the current state of the club, your county, professional rugby, your national team and rugby in general. Fortunately this happens to be my default setting. I feel I am half way there.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

England Rugby's Flowerpot Men

BILL & BEN
So, according to the media, Billy Vunipola and Ben Te'o have had to make a "grovelling apology" to team mates after returning to the team hotel late and the worse for wear for drink following a night out after the 38-38 draw with Scotland on Sunday.

That's two grown men going out, letting off some steam and getting a bit pissed AFTER the conclusion of the Six Nations tournament.

No one was hurt, no damage was caused, no laws were broken, no one was arrested.

How times have changed. I mean, it's hardly Dean Richards and John Jeffrey and a severely dented Calcutta Cup it it?

Move along ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Whither England 2019?

Ok, a few days has passed since the most ridiculous game of rugby I have ever witnessed, so time to reflect a little more calmly on England's performance during the 2019 Six Nations.

Not that I have calmed down that much, and the news today that spoon-bending publicity junkie, Uri Geller, is urging Eddie Jones to take him to the World Cup as the answer to England’s psychological problems tells us just how ludicrous Saturday's implosion was.

First of all let's be honest - England's second half performance against Scotland at Twickenham was the stuff of nightmares as a 31-0 lead somehow became an unbearable burden to the extent that it was squandered by a team that panicked at the first hint of a Scottish revival. We are talking about hardened professional rugby players who lost all semblance of shape, control or discipline. It was truly, truly shocking and no amount of positivity about how well England attacked at times during this competition can disguise that.

That there is an underlying mental frailty - also demonstrated in Cardiff - cannot be in doubt. But for Eddie Jones to lay this at the door of England's premature exit from the 2015 World Cup is simply disingenuous. Jones has had four Six Nations competitions (and indeed won his first two) to iron out any World Cup hangovers and this team is very different from the one that failed in 2015, so the only conclusion to draw is that Jones is just trying to pass the buck. Next thing you know he'll be blaming Sam Burgess.

On the plus side, the England squad as a whole looks stronger than it has done for a while.

England now have some great front row options with the emergence of Ben Moon to cover Mako Vunipola at loosehead and with Kyle Sinckler establishing himself a potentially world class number 3. There are plenty of quality locks - with Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes to return - and the backrow now has proper balance with Curry and Wilson, although I do have my concerns about Billy Vunipola's diminishing returns. What the pack does lack is someone to take control and get hold of the game. Dylan Hartley? Perhaps, but I'd be surprised if his form could merit a return. 

In the backs England look to be in fine fettle with the exception that Manu Tuilagi still looks decidedly uncomfortable at 12 and Elliot Daly remains unconvincing as a fullback. There are, however, classy wings in abundance (including the now superb Jonny May) and Henry Slade now looks to the manor born. The main issue appears to be at half-back. Ben Youngs, despite his 85 caps, seems incapable of properly shaping a game at scrum half while Owen Farrell - good player that he is - has worryingly lost the plot tactically on the two occasions that England have been put under real pressure.

Unfortunately it is almost certainly too late for Eddie Jones to change tack now. I'm sure he has most of his 31 man World Cup squad pencilled in (barring injuries). All he can say is that he will bring in someone to fix England's psychological issues - as if it's that easy.

Let's just hope that someone is not Uri Geller!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

England Women's Grand Slam - congrats and a warning...

Many congrats to England's women on their Six Nations Grand Slam which was never really in doubt.

With a points difference of 233 and an average score per match of 55-9 this really was as straightforward as it gets, not massively surprising given that England were the only fully professional team in the competition.

It's great that England's women are being rewarded, but given their utter dominance it is incumbent on the powers that be to ensure that standards are raised across the board - a title sponsor for the Women's Six Nations would be a good start.

After all, while the England women can, in the short term, bask in their much deserved success, without meaningful competition the women's game will simply atrophy in the longer term.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Six Nations 2019: Champs & Chumps



Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for, the Champs and Chumps of the 2019 Six Nations...

CHAMPS:

15. Liam Williams - faultless.
14. Josh Adams - outshone his more illustrious wing partner.
13. Henry Slade - now a fully fledged international centre.
12. Hadleigh Parkes - colossus in the Welsh centres
11. Jonny May - now world class.
10. Finn Russell - touch of genius.
9. Antoine Dupont - a chink of light amidst French darkness .
1. Cian Healy - a warrior for Ireland
2. Jamie George - Dylan who?.
3. Kyle Sinckler - getting better and better.
4. Alun Wyn Jones - currently the world's best lock.
5. George Kruis - back to his best.
6. Josh Navidi - superb.
7. Tom Curry - England finally have a proper openside.
8. Ross Moriarty - now undroppable.

CHUMPS:

15. Robbie Henshaw - totally exposed by England's kicking game.
14. Angelo Esposito - apparently "esposito" is Italian for turnstile.
13. Mathieu Bastareaud - France will never progress until they stop picking a prop at 13.
12. Bundee Aki - opposition now appear to have him worked out.
11. Yoann Huget - defensive liability with horrible attitude.
10. Camile Lopez - Sexton and Farrell were disappointing, but Lopez was truly awful.
9. Morgan Parra - AWOL at Twickenham and French career seemingly over. Ben Youngs a close second.
1. Andrea Lovotti - whatever happened to fantastic Italian scrummaging?
2.  Leonardo Ghiraldini - only contribution now is stroppiness.
3. Dan Cole - not quite sure what he's doing back in the England fold.
4. Jonny Gray - just making tackles is no longer enough.
5. Sébastien Vahaamahina - briefly French captain without knowing it!! 
6. Arthur Iturria - general loose cannon.
7. Sean O'Brien - nowhere near the levels he's previously achieved.
8. Sergio Parisse - sadly the light has faded. Tight call with Picamoles.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Six Nations 2019 - Final Round Verdict

So, here I am, feeling quite bereft after another Six Nations comes to an end. In many ways it was a championship  full of surprises. In others it was all too predictable. One inescapable conclusion though is that the best all round team finished top and thoroughly deserved their Grand Slam.

A few thoughts and observations:

WALES

Calm, ruthless, efficient and brilliantly competent - Wales utterly dominated the final match against Ireland to seal the Grand Slam. This is not the most exciting Wales team there has ever been - and I suspect they will need to add a few more strings to their bow to make an impact at the World Cup - but I don't think I've seen a more effective Welsh line up who think so clearly under pressure. The coaching staff can take huge credit for this but ultimately it is the players who take to the field and make the decisions. Hats off to them - their success is well deserved.

ENGLAND

I guess 2nd place is a big improvement on 2018's showing, but I can honestly say that the second half against Scotland on Saturday was the worst I've known an England team play for many a year, a total and utter embarrassing shambles. For periods during this Six Nations England looked the best team in the competition - compelling and overwhelming attack combined with ferocious defence - but clearly there is an underlying fragility when the pressure comes on. Worrying.

IRELAND

What the hell happened to Ireland? Defeat to England in the opening fixture appeared to dent confidence to such an extent that they never really rediscovered their mojo and against Wales in Cardiff they were utterly outfought and out-thought. It was all looking so good for the Irish in November but there will have to be a great deal of soul-searching for this squad now. Time for Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell to really start earning their corn...

FRANCE

France - a total basket-case - somehow managed to finish 4th in the championship despite the players at times looking like they had barely met. Their performances at Twickenham and in Dublin were simply an embarrassment and, despite the injection of some exciting young talent into the team, I feel more major surgery is needed - probably at the top - before France can become a force again. 

SCOTLAND

Although Scotland's comeback from 0-31 down at Twickenham was remarkable in many ways, it does somewhat mask Scotland's failings in this year's championship. Yes, the Scots suffered horribly with injuries, but a fifth place finish is still a disappointment and mistake-ridden performances against  Ireland, Wales and France, plus abject defending in the first half at Twickenham, should still be causes for concern.

ITALY

There comes a point when you just have to say enough is enough. Italy have some decent players,  played well in patches and probably did enough to beat France in the final game, but there was never any realistic belief that Italy could muster a win in this year's competition and if there is no prospect of victory then what's the point?

Team of the week:

15. Liam Williams 14. Darcy Graham 13. Henry Slade 12. Hadleigh Parkes 11. Josh Adams 10. Finn Russell 9. Antoine Dupont 1. Rob Evans 2. Ken Owens 3. Tomas Francis 4. Alun-Wyn Jones 5. Adam Beard 6. Josh Navidi 7. Justin Tipuric 8. Ross Moriarty

Champs & Chumps to follow later...

Friday, 15 March 2019

Six Nations 2019: Final Round Predictions


So, here we are, a preview of the final weekend of the Six Nations of 2019, a time of anticipation and excitement tinged with sadness and the realisation that it will all be over for another year. I guess we'll have to make do with the Rugby World Cup later this year 😉

Anyway, here we go - my predictions for the weekend

Italy v France
Bragging rights are up for grabs at the bottom of the table. If Italy can produce the rugby they showed  the last time they played in Rome (v Ireland) and France produce the utter pap they have displayed away from home so far in the championship, then victory awaits for the Italians. I have a sneaky feeling, however, (and I hope I'm wrong) that the French, seeking to redeem themselves yet again, will do enough to win this one. France by 9-12.

Wales v Ireland
I have tipped against Wales throughout this championship and they keep proving me wrong (this obviously being their primary motivation). There's little doubt in my mind that the Ireland team of November 2018 is better than this Wales team, but so far the Irish have failed to hit those heights in this Six Nations. It will be tighter than a gnat's chuff but Wales - I feel - could very well sneak this by 3-6 points. Or maybe even a draw?

England v Scotland
Complacency could be England's biggest enemy on Saturday, especially if Wales seal the deal in Cardiff. On paper there is no way this depleted Scottish squad, whose recent form has been indifferent, should get anywhere near this England team (even accounting for Eddie Jones' perverse selections) who have so far been imperious at home. Although Scotland's winless streak at Twickenham (dating back to 1983) must end at some point I honestly can't see this squad beating England and ultimately this should be a comfortable home win. England by 15+.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

England Rugby: No go for Big Joe

Sorry, I just don't get it.

Following a much deserved Man of the Match performance against Italy, Joe Cokanasiga now finds himself out of the match day squad entirely for the final fixture against Scotland on Saturday, replaced by Jack Nowell.

I am a big fan of Nowell - his industry, workrate, defence and aerial game are excellent - but you have to ask yourself, if you were a Scottish winger, who would you rather face?

Eddie Jones knows all he needs to know about Nowell who, barring injury, will no doubt be on the plane to Japan later this year. Big Joe, however, still needs meaningful game time to demonstrate that his rich talent can and should play a significant part in the World Cup.

This selection suggests to me that Eddie, bizarrely, is far from convinced that Cokanasiga should go to Japan - either that or it's a case of Jones just being perverse -  irritated by Cokanasiga being compared to the great Jonah Lomu last weekend - and  has decided to give the fans and the media the middle finger.

It also suggests a return to the kicking game for England, despite the recall of Henry Slade in the centres.

For crying out loud, he's even included Ben Teo ahead of Cokanasiga on the bench - which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

As I say, I just don't get it.


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Manu Tuilagi: I take it all back...

News just in this morning that Manu Tuilagi has in fact rejected Racing 92's lucrative offer and has signed a new deal with Leicester Tigers.

I therefore hereby take back my previous comments.

A question I have previously posed is: whatever happened to loyalty?

 I think we now have our answer.

A petition to expel Mr Tuilagi from the Total Flanker Hall of Wazzocks will be considered in due course.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Six Nations 2019: Eddie Jones should tone it down

I can’t say I’m particularly impressed by comments from Eddie Jones ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham.

Jones appears to be calling for ‘hostility’ when the Scots come to visit, saying that “we would certainly like to reciprocate the welcome we got up there last year” – referring to the abuse he and some of his players received before, during and after last year’s game at Murrayfield.

In light of some of the issues with fan behaviour currently being experienced by the round ball game, and given how last year Jones attributed some of the abuse he suffered – in particular by Scotland supporters at a Manchester railway station the following day – to inflammatory pre-match comments from the likes of Gavin Hastings, I’m surprised that Jones has chosen to stir things up in this way.

Although Jones has sought to limit his call to action to “on-field hostility”, the tone of his comments appears very much directed towards exacting revenge for the way he perceives he and his team were treated in Scotland a year ago.

It's all so unnecessary and I can only hope that Jones’ poor choice of language does not therefore lead to unintended consequences…

Monday, 11 March 2019

Six Nations 2019: a Grand Slam for Wales?

Warren Gatland is a wily old bird. Prior to this year's Six Nations he claimed that a Welsh win in Paris on the opening weekend set his team on the way to a Grand Slam and so it has proved, with Wales set to attempt to seal the deal against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.

Throughout this Six Nations I've been tipping Wales to lose (other than against Italy). I believed that France would prevail in the opening fixture (not banking on a French second half implosion), that England would prove to be too strong in Cardiff (not anticipating the English tactical howler that followed) and that the Scots would get it right against Wales at Murrayfield (not taking into account the current Scottish propensity for making costly errors). Wrong on all counts.

What Wales have done so far is to stay in games and not concede too many points when under the cosh - and then, when opportunities have arisen, they have taken them. There is much to be admired about this - the ability to win tight matches in which the tide is against you for long periods is not to be underestimated and is borne from the confidence that a 14 match unbeaten brings.

What Wales haven't done, however, at any point in this Six Nations so far is to cut loose and set the championship alight. Nine tries (the same as France and Italy) and no bonus points from 4 games is a pretty meagre return. It's almost as if Wales have taken the concept of "Warrenball" and made it even more functional, more efficient, more error-free and more hard-nosed. It's nothing special to watch, but it's difficult to knock given how effective it has been.

And so to the Grand Slam decider against Ireland. I'd like to be able to predict a more expansive Welsh performance but my expectations are that this will be another tight, tough, bruising encounter. Ireland, seemingly having played their way back into form, will provide one hell of a final hurdle for the Welsh but I am expecting more of the same from Wales and certainly wouldn't bet against them completing the clean sweep.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Six Nations 2019 - Round 4 Verdict

The verdict is in...

Scotland 11-18 Wales
Hmmm. The Welsh Slam is still on after another relatively ordinary performance against an error-ridden and seriously injury-depleted Scotland. While I have to respect and acknowledge this winning run from Wales, the lack of a single bonus point in their 4 matches in the championship so far tells us all we need to know about the way Wales are playing. Will they win the Grand Slam? I wouldn't put it past them.

England 57-14
Italy may have been poor, but you can only beat what's in front of you and no one else has put the Italians to the sword in this way in this year's Six Nations. Still not at all convinced by the idea of a Teo and Tuilagi midfield combo and there were periods in the second half when England were pretty ordinary, but in Joe Cokanasiga we may well be looking at a future world superstar.

Ireland 26-14 France
Never has a scoreline so misrepresented a game of rugby. Ireland's domination of this game was so absolute that I can't recall France even getting into Ireland's 22 until the last few minutes when the 2 French tries were scored. Ireland, for the most part, are looking like their old selves but France, I'm afraid, once again just looked clueless.

Team of the week:
15. Jordan Larmour 14. Joe Cokanasiga 13. Manu Tuilagi 12. Hadleigh Parkes 11. Keith Earls 10. Johnny Sexton 9. Connor Murray 1. Alan Dell 2. Jamie George 3. Kyle Sinckler 4. Iain Henderson 5. George Kruis 6. Josh Navidi 7. Hamish Watson 8. CJ Stander

Friday, 8 March 2019

Six Nations 2019: Round 4 predictions

After what seems like an interminable gap, round 4 of the 2019 Six Nations is finally upon us and what follows is what almost definitely, probably, possibly is going to transpire this weekend...



Scotland v Wales
This is a huge game for Wales given that they remain the only unbeaten team in the championship. How comfortable the Welsh are as front runners, and whether they can lift themselves to the heights of their performance against England, remain to be seen but I think they will have to as Scotland at Murrayfield are no pushovers. This could be a massive potential banana skin for the Welsh, especially given the unwelcome WRU "Project Reset" distraction. I therefore think Scotland might sneak this by 3-6 points.

England v Italy
Although the Italians are definitely improving they were still relatively comfortably beaten by a mediocre Ireland last time out. I can see them causing problems for England, who have selected a midfield with plenty of heft but lacking pace, but probably not enough to secure that elusive victory. England need to bounce back after the defeat in Cardiff, so I'm going for a home win by 10-15. 

Ireland v France
There's no doubt that France recovered some of their mojo last time out against the Scots, but I still think that some the old guard are holding the team back and would like to see more bravery in selection. Ireland have yet to really hit their straps in the championship, but a home fixture against traditionally poor travellers offers the Irish the chance to get back on track and I suspect this will end up being relatively comfortable for the men in green. Ireland by 15+.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

England Rugby: What is the point of Dan Robson?

Whatever the merits of the changes Eddie Jones has made to the England team to face Italy this weekend, his most baffling call is the decision not to start Dan Robson - arguably the best number 9 in the Premiership over the past couple of seasons - at scrum half.

Having selected Robson ahead of the likes of Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth for this year's Six Nations, Jones has since allowed the Wasps scrum half little more than 10 minutes international rugby, against a well beaten France, with Robson merely gathering splinters in his arse on the bench for the rest of the campaign.

Given's Robson's lack of international experience it is beginning not to bode well for his chances of making the World Cup squad later this year. After all, if Jones only rates him to this extent then you have to ask why Robson is in the squad.

In other words: what is the point of Dan Robson?

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Wales Rugby: "Project Reset" a huge distraction

The timing of “Project Reset” – a plan to merge the Ospreys and the Scarlets into one West Wales entity – could not really have been worse.

The plan itself – which would still leave four professional teams in Wales with the proposed (risky) introduction of a team into North Wales – is a little baffling given that Ospreys and Scarlets have in recent years tended to be the more successful of the teams in Wales and there appear to be no equivalent plans to merge Cardiff Blues and the Dragons into an East Wales outfit.

Whatever the merits, however, to be discussing this so openly and publicly in the middle of the Six Nations has to be hugely distracting for a Welsh squad who are three fifths on their way to a Grand Slam.

I suspect Warren Gatland will not be a happy bunny.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

France Rugby: encore la même équipe

France head coach Jacques Brunel has unprecedentedly named an unchanged side for this weekend's Six Nations encounter Ireland in Dublin.

This is the first time the French have named an unchanged team since their introduction to the Championship in 1910 😉

It is reported that hundreds of French rugby supporters are undergoing therapy having suffered nervous breakdowns following today's team announcement and it is understood that the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, will address the nation on television this evening in an attempt to reassure the public in the face of anticipated civil unrest...

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Manu Tuilagi: alternative viewpoint

Thanks to Paul Howes who sent me the following email in response to my recent post about Manu Tuilagi's possible move to Racing 92 (as yet unconfirmed, I should mention):
Dear Mr Flanker

In the real world outside of sport. Let’s say a person joins a Company as an apprentice carpenter. That individual is then trained, nurtured, promoted, looked after when he is injured on site, welcomed back when they are fit to return to work, sent on courses, offered a supervision role, promoted to management until they are eventually they reach a senior role. This person is then offered a chance of a move to another Company that offers them more money doing the same role. People would not bat an eye lid. They would congratulate them on using their skills and hard work to secure a better future for themselves and their family.

In sport players looking after themselves don’t get treated the same. Careers, in what is becoming an increasingly physical sport are becoming shorter and early retirements are becoming more frequent. They need to make hay whilst the sun shines. Not wait. An injury that could end a career could be just round the corner. Rob Horne for example.

Just saying

Regards

Paul Howes
Thank you Paul - all good points, well made. I guess we do hold sportsmen, and in particular rugby players, to a different standard, largely I think because of two factors:
1. the emotional investment that we, as supporters, make in the game - thus we expect the same of our players; and
2. the amateur traditions and values of rugby, loyalty being right up there...

Friday, 1 March 2019

World League for Rugby is a crap idea

I'm pleased that the likes of Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton have spoken out against World Rugby's plans for a World League, largely because it's a crap idea.
Not only would the concept - a league of 12 teams playing each other once each year with semi-finals and a final to be held in the northern hemisphere in December - actually increase the physical and mental burden on players, with way too much travelling involved, the actual format being proposed is also utterly unacceptable.
The proposed 12 team league would consist of the current Six Nations teams, the four teams from the Rugby Championship plus USA and Japan - therefore excluding the likes of Georgia and the Pacific Island nations. What's more, it is proposed that there will be no promotion or relegation for 12 years!
So, in summary, a shit idea that ignores player welfare issues by increasing the amount of international rugby played and which utterly fails to grow the game globally by pulling up the drawbridge and excluding tier 2 nations (unless they happen to have a large economy).
Clearly it's just all about the money...