2011 RWC to claw back to 16…? Let’s hope.
March 9, 2007
Let's hope this report from the Dominion Post, via Rugby Heaven is accurate and gets some traction. I've been saying for years the RWC tournament needs to claw back to 16 teams. There are minnows in this years' RWC that will get hammered by cricket scores during the pool stages, and it's offensive to the sport as well as the audience that the tournament is trying to sell.
Minnows could be culled for 2011 Cup
by Jim Kayes
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The 2011 World Cup in New Zealand could be a case of back to the future, with 16 teams and a more streamlined qualifying process. The inaugural World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 featured 16 teams, which was increased to 20 for the 1999 tournament and remained that way in 2003 and for this year's tournament in France.
It is too many, with Romania, Georgia, Namibia and whoever qualifies between Portugal and Uruguay destined to be the victims of some whopping cricket scores.
IRB chairman Syd Millar confirmed on Tuesday that the number of teams for the 2011 World Cup would be reviewed, along with the protracted qualifying process.
This year's World Cup will have featured 92 teams after 86 went through a qualifying system that began when Andorra thrashed Norway in September 2004.
One spot remains open - in the All Blacks' pool - with Portugal to play Uruguay in Lisbon this weekend and again in Montevideo on March 24.
Millar said qualifying for the 2011 tournament would be more streamlined, with regional tournaments an option. That would allow the seedings to be done closer to the tournament, making them more accurate.
The seedings for this year's World Cup are based on where teams finished in Australia four years ago, leaving Argentina, who are now sixth in the world, in a pool of death with France and Ireland.
"We are looking at what we might do for 2011, how teams might qualify and we will look at the numbers (of teams in the tournament)," Millar said before the IRB executive met in Auckland yesterday. "We've got to review the World Cup, and see where were going and how we can make the World Cup better."
An English initiative has previously suggested two World Cups run side by side for top-tier nations and the next level, though Miller said that was impractical because amateur players would not get sufficient time off work. Though he would not say how many teams could feature in 2011, the only option outside the status quo was to reduce the number of teams to 16.
"We won't be increasing the numbers at all, but the format will be different for qualification because we had 86 teams this time.
"It's a huge advantage for those teams to say they played in the World Cup (albeit only in the qualifying stages). That gives them status, but we may have to have them qualify in a different way."
Millar also confirmed that the executive committee would discuss nine options for an integrated season that allows for tidier windows for test matches, but he conceded it was very much a work in progress.
While there was general agreement that competitions had to shift to allow each country to have access to their best players, persuading unions to move their competitions was easier said than done.
"We have nine options and that sounds ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is we've been working on this for some time and everybody has an opinion," Millar said.
"Everybody wants an integrated season, but then when you ask them to shift their season there are reasons for them not doing it."
He hoped yesterday's meeting would be able to whittle the nine options down to two or three, and admitted it was likely that whatever was settled on would see fewer tests played.
"We can't squeeze the season in the way were doing. There's just not the time in the season to play all the matches."