Monday, January 16, 2012

Tier-Two Countries to compete in new competition?

Portugal vs USA, November 2010
One of the major issues of Rugby World Cup´s is that teams who are given no chance of winning the tournament or getting past, or even to the Quarter Finals face the top ranked sides on the global stage despite rarely or never facing the teams at other times. This can mean players and teams are not prepared fully for the challenge of facing a title contender. These teams are catergorized as rugby´s second-tier or, in some cases, rugby´s third-tier. They are teams which, aside from Japan, remain fully amateur and unable to regularly compete well against let alone defeat the teams from The Six Nations and The Rugby Championship.

There are examples of the second tier seriously pushing the first tier or even defeating them. Rugby World Cup 2011 had a number of such cases with the USA giving Ireland a tough match and Tonga, despite losing to Canada, defeating France. But the norm continues to be that the first tier sides win the matches comfortably. The World Cup draw in 2011 like in earlier additions did not help matters as teams were forced to back up to play two matches with only four days between them. It makes a complicated situation even harder for second tier sides which resulted in harsh criticism being directed at tournament organizers with Samoa´ s Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu in particular being vocal.  

With teams outside of the first-tier playing rarely against the sport´s leading countries the situation is not at all easy for the sides to develop. But the problem runs even deeper as second-tier sides face each other very rarely. In most cases the matches are restricted to geography with the Pacific Island nations only facing each other and Japan, the Europeans playing eachother and the USA and Canada playing each other much more often than others. November 2010 was a breakthrough with the USA and Canada both facing Georgia and Portugal in Tblissi and Lisbon.

The success of the occassions underlined the need for more and the second tier, led by the USA has been rumoured on social media sources to be in the process of setting up an annual Tier-Two competition. Rumours proclaim that the President of the Georgia Rugby Union, Gia Nijharadze, recently said on national television that the USA is to host a meeting latter this month which will include Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Tonga and possibly Namibia and Portugal with the aim of kicking off the competition in 2013.

If true, it could well be the breakthrough that rugby needs and will certainly provide the participants with a vastly improved list of fixtures. It does, however, lack a number of countries who merit inclusion. Portugal, Spain and Uruguay would all have reason to feel hard done by should they not be included.  


  1. good idea, it would give a clear idea of which teams deserve some big matches against the Tier 1 clique

    Samoa gave all their opposition hard matches on their recent tour, Fiji drew to Wales, Tonga beat the French Barbarians, have some fixtures against Scotland this year which is a good idea, in Fiji's case they were thumped in the World Cup and in my opinion should go behind Georgia/Canada in the queue to play Tier 1 nations, however they have a fixture with England in November coming up I believe

    Canada to be honest, didn't make the most of their chance to play Wales and Scotland in 2008, but they have improved since then, but they gave a weakened Wales side a decent match in 2009 and have improved so perhaps deserve another chance

    I don't remember USA playing Tier 1 nations in November over the past five years, but they were thrashed by Wales in 2009 so perhaps playing Italy is the biggest team they should be playing at the moment

    Georgia have beaten every tier 2 nation with the exception of Japan over the past couple of years, and are the most deserving of matches against the 6 Nations sides, I know few would agree with me but I actually think they are as good as Italy and should be added, to the 6 Nations or given a home/away playoff match with the team bottom

    Romania are going backwards, should play USA and Canada more often, Tier 1 nations too high for them

    Russia are rapidly improving and I think by 2015 they will win at least a match in the World Cup, shown they can compete with Canada and USA already and I expect they will have improved by 2012 with more players playing in big European sides

    Namibia should be a mid week fixture on tours to South Africa, and play Russia and Romania and USA, Canada, Georgia have moved a level above

    if teams aren't full strength then any fixture should be forgotten about, as England Saxons 87-0 USA matches are pointless for both sides

    1. * Fiji sv England is confirmed for November 2012.

      * Canada, in 2008, were rebuilding and used the tour to Ireland, Wales and Scotland to blood players as much as anything else. The country was badly beaten but was far from full strength. Hopefully all parties learned something in 2010 when Canada played Belgium, Portugal, Georgia and Spain. A much better tour.

      * The USA, like Canada, woukld be far better served by playing Second-Tier sides than facing World Cup Quarter or Semi Finalists. The USA did well in hosting Uruguay in Utah in 2008 and in 2009 played the same side in November to qualify for New Zealand 2011. The other tour was to Japan. This is why the Eagles have not played Tier One sides aside from at home since France 2007.

      * Georgia impressed in hosting and defeating both Canada and the USA in 2010. The Eastern European side should host Tonga, Fiji, Japan and Samoa soon. This is a must. Games should also be arranged vs both Italy and Scotland - preferably in Tblissi. Scotland could make use of Aberdeen or Perth mind you.

      * Romania must host Canada, the USA, Japan, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. Its an absolute must. November matches against these sides are what ought to happen. Namibia is another who should visit Bucharest.

      * Russia need to host the same sides and, unlike Romania, Portugal and Spain it has a budget that enables it to do so. The win in Windhock over Namibia must be the start of regular tours. Russia could benefit from a June tour to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. With one test vs each and mid week tests vs Brazil and Paraguay.

  2. Thanks for sharing the information......

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  3. I love this idea. It should be called IRB World Rugby Trophy, like the Junior tournament.