World Cup keeps getting better – Jake

Jake White

In the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, World Rugby paid for me to join the Tongan management team as the replacement for a coach who needed a knee op and couldn’t travel.

They also paid for conditioning coaches that were brought in from New Zealand, some of the best in the country, and sports psychologists who worked with the players on the way to approach Test matches.

Obviously a country like Tonga would prefer for that kind of support to be sustained for longer than just the build-up to a world cup, but it does highlight World Rugby’s commitment to making the showpiece event as competitive as possible.

Another example of this is the World Rugby-funded coaching seminars that are hosted in Stellenbosch for Tier 2 countries every year.

One mother body is bankrolling the development of rugby globally and often they’re doing that in countries where the game faces serious commercial challenges because it’s not the number one sport.

Even in some established rugby nations, those challenges are seeing clubs fold, regions merge and franchises in financial trouble. These are organisations responsible for the game on a much smaller scale, but when you measure World Rugby by the quality of the Rugby World Cup, you have to say the head office is in a helluva good place.

If you ask anyone in Cardiff they’ll tell you that Wales, the Six Nations champions, are going to win the 2019 RWC. Their current 14-Test win streak broke a 100-year record, they’re second on the world rankings and they’ve been tipped as genuine contenders.

Third on the list are Ireland, European champs a year ago and the one team with a positive record against the All Blacks since the last World Cup.

England will be close to unstoppable if they return to their form of a couple of years ago. South Africa and Australia have each won the tournament twice. The Wallabies were runners-up in 2015 and the Boks are upbeat after edging the All Blacks in Wellington last year.

Scotland stopped the Wallabies twice in 2017 and, while France are battling right now, they’ve been to three finals.

The All Blacks are favourites to win their third straight world title, but the gap is much smaller than four years ago when there was clear daylight between New Zealand and everyone else, and that’s one of the reasons everyone is excited about the 2019 event – there are more than five teams with a reasonable chance of winning it.

It’s phenomenal that the ninth Rugby World Cup, hosted for the first time in an Asian country, is lining up to be the most competitive.

That’s something to be proud of and, if you did an audit on the game based on the state of the showpiece event, you’d have to say rugby is in a great place.

People say the game is dying and World Rugby is an easy target for those who like to find fault, but that’s because a lot of the work done behind the scenes goes unseen.

The great thing about the FIFA World Cup is that no team has won back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1962. The last five soccer world cups have been won by different teams and that level of competition makes lifting the trophy so much more special.

Though World Rugby is often criticised for not doing enough to help Tier 2 and 3 nations, they spend in the region of £25m (R460m) per annum on grants.

When you work out how much funding they invest in all the rugby playing nations, it’s incredible. Roughly R90m goes to helping the Pacific Island nations of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji every year.

You have to appreciate how much goes into keeping the sport competitive because World Rugby wants to create a game where multiple teams have a shot at winning on the biggest stage. We don’t want a game where 100 teams play but only three can lift the trophy and, five months from the 2019 Rugby World Cup, you have to say it’s job well done.

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • Herman Schroder?

    Perhaps WR can send some of the cash to Newlands to help them pay their staff. Eleven Thousand odd at Newlands last Saturday and with that result they may not even make five figures against the Bulls. Of course the Bulls supporters may be out en masse so expect a dominant light blue crowd, lol. Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      Herman the last time Ellis Park saw more than 11,000 supporters was probably when there was a test played there. Typically it’s the Lions family and close friends that pitch. 11,000 is not bad considering it is Easter weekend. I for one attend most of the games at Newlands and was away this weekend. Whats with the “lol” all the time?. My Auntie (84 years old) uses it all the time. I asked her why and she said it means “lots of love” which was a relief as I was worried she was one of these people who laugh out loud everytime they communicate.

      • Herman Schroder?

        My my so sensitive John. I know it hurts feller but deflecting to trivial little expressions to hide your hurt does you no favours. The Stormers should change their name to ‘ The LOL Stormers’ , lol. Cheers.

      • Graham

        My dad sent me a message a few years back saying my grandpa passed away and a big LOL at the end of the message. He apparently sent it to a whole bunch of people

      • SweetAz

        ROFLMAO, dont forget the “domkrag” and

    • SweetAz

      Perhaps WR can send the Lions a Compos Mentis Head coach and a defence coach that doesn’t go around assaulting women? Of course, I would probably also have a nervous breakdown if I had to face the Crusaders with a crocked Captain and a team led by the conditioning coach.

  • Barry

    Thanks Jake, you paint a very rosey picture.

    Unfortunately I have some criticism of World Rugby. Their charter quite clearly states that players should not be selected based on race or skin colour, yet in the case of South Africa, they blatantly over look this!

    If they are indeed intent on putting forward the best possible showcase, then why is it that they do not address this matter – if not from a showcase perspective then at least from a moral stand point?

    • Chris

      Even if they enforce such a rule on SA rugby, the ANC would just let them ban the Springboks.
      You really think they give a rats-ass about Rugby ?

      The path of least resistance is to continue developing players of colour that can make it on merrit. Unfortunately some young white players are not going to have open spots in SA teams. The SA school system just produces too many white players with talent. Rugby isn’t the only profession in SA where this is just a fact of live. You play the cards you’re dealt.

      At least they’ll still have the option to move to Australia or Europe to make a living if they’re good enough.

      • Barry

        Chris, that’s a bit of a defeatist position to take. It happens because we allow it to!

        There was a post some weeks back where the gent posted results on a census held on the subject of racial selections- not surprisingly the result was that it does not sit well with the majority of South Africans. It is but a small band of politicians with racial agenda, that force this upon our sport and for that matter other areas of our life!

        There is no question that we need to continue to develop players from all backgrounds, but the reality is that this obligation is not unique to South Africa – it should be on the agenda of every responsible Nation involved with the game of Rugby.

        • chris

          That “small band of politicians” happen to rule the ANC. I don’t see any way that changes in the next 10-20 years. They would love to have a fight over race with a international sporting body. Fits in well with the whole inti-colonial BS that Mugabe used to gin up his supporters.

          I watched some old SA test vids from not that long ago on youtube. Its incredible how white those teams were even 7-8 years ago. You actually struggle to find black players on the field or the bench at all.
          We’ve made a lot of strides in the top tier sides the last 5 years.
          I just think, from a practical standpoint, that we’ll be able to make quotas before were even close to seeing political change in this country.

          • Barry

            You are quite possibly right about this, but unless we try we will never know!

            The current target is 50%, but once that’s achieved then where to we go 80%…100%.

            I do also agree that the perpetrators probably don’t care if Rugby was banned, but I wonder if they would be as gung-ho if FIFA was lobbied?

    • Graeme

      Hi Barry, I’m interested in your comment about the charter and race/skin colour. I’ve had a look and can’t find a reference to this in the charter. Were would I find it?

    • SweetAz

      Well said, on this, we are in agreement.

  • Wesley

    Ah you two, i would swear you guys should be best friends, instead squabbling like an old married couple about unresolved issues that built up over years together. Hoe oulik!

    Anyway, its great WR is assisting those tier 2 and 3 nations, but seeing everyone gets a slice of the world cup pie being members of the body anyway, and WR would like to tap into any market that is viable in bringing returns, its a mix between a business venture, corporate exposure and governing duty to provide these assistances. Not as if WR could operate and survive as an island onto itself. Its good work but lets not hail the contributions into some backslapping exercise. They could be doing more in assisting the Island nations in growing a more global exposed league or inclusion in SR, instead they leave them up to NZ and Europe to develop superstars and then losing alot of those players to club commitments when there are national duties to be upheld. But they rather leave it up to SANZAAR who rather opts for a shortlived and failed Japanese inclusion only to chase some Japanese market because they see dollar signs instead of the long and consistant performing of the Samoas, Tongas and Fijis of the World Cup showcase stables. And now with the “Nations Cup” or whatever, they get shafted again. How can they be overseen every time when they have been constant performers? Much more to criticize than to laud on WR.

    • SweetAz

      It’s all just banter,-until someone takes offence…..So many snowflakes and coconuts around these days.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Reading the comments re the lack of will by WR to address the discrimination based on skin colour, so prevalent in our rugby, it might be timely to draw attention to it by using the WC as a platform. If you want to make a point do it on the world stage, this is the perfect time to do it. You’ll see how fast WR reacts.

    Demonstrations at RC games is a good place to start. Boycotting those games is another way to get the ball rolling, not that I’m expecting the normally apathetic Bok supporter to respond in any meaningful way. Rather moan and groan and tell the barman to ‘gooi nog ‘n branners and coke’, it’s far less taxing and infinitely more enjoyable.

    By the way I believe the UN has already put SA on notice regarding this ‘practice’. Again not expecting any fireworks from those toothless wonders. Cheers.

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