Latest Sports News

OPINION: How the Six Nations should be revamped

To many, it is the greatest test rugby competition around.

Historic rivalries, premium quality, and a sea of colour make the Six Nations the highlight of the rugby union calendar.

No sporting competition in the world has a higher average attendance, and its free-to-air status across the participating countries means that, to several supporters, their first-ever experience of the sport involved this famous tournament.

Although that doesn’t make it perfect.

The tournament has been ring-fenced since 2000 when Italy were invited into the action due to the progress that their national team was making at the time.

However, things haven’t quite gone to plan for the Azzurri.

In the 20 competitions that have preceded their arrival, the Italians have suffered a remarkable 16 Wooden Spoon awards, a tag given to the last-placed nation.

They have now reached the undesired total of six competitions without a win, with their last triumph coming in 2015 against Scotland, 32 matches ago.

This is why simply put, World Rugby needs to introduce a play-off system for the Six Nations to reignite its competitive edge.

The concept has been widely touted across social media and would involve a deciding fixture between the final placed Six Nations team, and the winners of the Rugby Europe Championship, a competition for European teams who don’t participate in the continent’s premium tournament.

Georgia have gone 18 matches unbeaten in the format, but unfortunately, there is a ceiling for their success, which needs to change.

For their own progression, the Lelos need the opportunity to test themselves at a higher level, something their displays have warranted.

The proposition would prevent the Six Nations from becoming stale, and add an additional element of anticipation and unpredictability to the spectacle, rather than endure the formality of the Italians propping up the table.

Another idea that has been speculated is the addition of a Southern Hemisphere country to the competition, with South Africa widely tipped to be a seventh nation.

Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll voiced his support for the Springboks to join to party when speaking to OTB Sports.

“The world is modernising, you can’t be stuck in your old ways as well”, said on O’Driscoll.

“I think you have got to have an ability to adjust and maneuver with the times. When you look at a powerhouse like South Africa coming and joining the Six Nations, could they do anything but enhance it? – I don’t think so.

“They would be a brilliant addition.”

Whilst this would no doubt bring in a wider audience to the sport, particularly south of the equator, a move like this would hamper the tradition and feel that the tournament has, an aura that makes it so special.

Each fixture is steeped in history, and either has the added storyline of being a local derby or possesses a plot from a past encounter that adds extra significance. That’s what makes the competition so special.

Yes, Southern Hemisphere rugby has been starved of fixtures for 18 months, but inviting them to join the Six Nations would draw too many similarities to a World Cup.

The novelty of seeing British nations face-off against a full-force New Zealand or South African side would wear off should it become an annual occurrence.

The Six Nations needs reform. But not at the cost of its roots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *