A World Cup format to encourage the minnows
Like many people on The Roar, I’m keen on seeing how the minnows perform in the Rugby World Cup.
There have been some great matches so far, with the emerging nations falling narrowly short in several of the games.
And I am particularly looking forward to seeing how the USA performs against Russia this Thursday. What a great prospect that is!
The only thing that slightly disappoints me is the knowledge that none of the smaller nations are likely to make the quarter-finals, which will probably be contested by the usual suspects.
But how about a format that would guarantee more matches between the minnows, and would ensure at least two of them make it to the quarter-finals.
This could easily be achieved by retaining the current format of four pools of five nations, but changing the way teams are allocated to the pools and how teams then qualify from the pools to the quarter-finals.
Let’s say that we seed the pools, with two top pools of five, and two secondary pools of five.
The two higher seeded pools would be made up from the ten nations in the Tri-Nations and Six-Nations plus Argentina. The two lower seeded pools would be made up by the other competing nations.
For the quarter-finals, we would have three teams from each of the top-ranking pools, and one team from each of the lower-ranking pools.
This proposal would have many advantages.
It would guarantee much closer games in all the pool matches. It would guarantee more big games for the major TV networks in the pool matches, enhancing the value of the competition.
It would also give real incentives to the so-called minnows to see a route to reach the last eight of the competition.
As it stands at the moment, those of us who are rugby purists, love the clashes of the minnows and the big guns, but the rest of the world tends to see these games as potential one-siders, even if they turn out not to be.
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