Thursday, March 28, 2013

Big problems with the South American Championship that need sorting

One debating point that came up after last year's South American Championship was that whether the fact that it was packed into such a small timeframe hurt it as a tournament.

The point was made after Brazil rested a few players for their match against Argentina where they were hammered 111-0.

That scoreline is horrific reading for Brazilian fans, but it doesn't actually reflect the improvements that Brazil have made and their margins of defeat have been ever decreasing against Uruguay and Chile, and they lost by just 12 and 13 points respectively last year to them. That scoreline was due to the fact they rested players.
Brazil after their 111-0 loss to
Argentina last year where they
rested several players.

The reason they decided to rest players was because the entire tournament was squashed into a week. With teams playing 3 matches between 20 May and 26 May last year.

Brazil knew that they couldn't beat Argentina so instead focused on their match ups with Uruguay and Chile and sacrificed their midweek game with the Pumas.

You can understand Brazil's reasoning behind this. But should they be forced into making that decision?

The IRB currently only has the tournament in a very small time frame to save money, but if an extra week was added it would prevent situations like the Argentina match happening again, and would be better for the quality and interest of the tournament.

This year, it would be no surprise if Chile decided to sacrifice the midweek game against Argentina in order to rest their team for their huge match against Uruguay. So Chile may gain an advantage in rest times over Uruguay who won't be able to afford the same luxury in a RWC qualifier match as Chile can who play a match outside RWC qualification. 

To be quite frank, it is ridiculous that what is the most important match in the continent for each side every 4 years. Both nations' big chance to progress in a playoff with Europe 3 (likely Russia or Portugal), and have a chance at a journey to the World Cup. And for the big career defining match, Uruguay will get a mere 1 day rest.

The IRB shouldn't allow this to happen. If one more week was added to the tournament, then it would stop the opportunity for teams to sacrifice matches against Argentina which aren't part of RWC qualification and would make a better quality tournament, with Argentina getting some tougher matches as well.

But currently the IRB is currently running the tournament with an attitude of spending as little as possible. Hence why the nations are all based in one place (bar one match, none in previous years) and can't travel to play home and away like the Six Nations or ENC teams do, and it is also all squashed into a week. 

I know the IRB has lots of requests for extra funding for a lot of things, but surely for their marquee tournament they should make sure that all teams get an equal rest for the big matches. There would never be a RWC final with one team having played midweek. Neither should there be in South American knockout final either.

For the upcoming South American Championship it is likely that Chile will rest players against Argentina (the match which isn't part of RWC qualifying) and as a result the match will be a cricket score and an absolute tonking. Also if Uruguay lose to Chile who will be more rested (assuming Uruguay don't try and get away with resting players in their RWC qualifier with Brazil), then Uruguay will be very upset at the IRB and the schedule.

Outside of the very tight schedule. The fact that it is nearly all based in one place also is something the IRB need to sort out. Thanks to that, Brazilian and Chilean rugby fans will hardly get to watch their side play all year. Whilst Uruguay get an advantage of home advantage in their matches this year (compensation for one days' rest some might say). To truly reward the most deserving team to go through, then it should be home and away based over 2 seasons like the ENC does it. The current system may not allow the team who is most deserving to progress. The solution to the problem is very simple, and the IRB ought to fix it.

2013 South American Championship schedule:
April 27 Chile v Brazil, Temuco (Chile)
April 27 Argentina v Uruguay, Montevideo
May 02 Argentina v Chile, Montevideo
May 02 Uruguay v Brazil, Montevideo
May 04 Argentina v Brazil, Montevideo
May 04 Uruguay v Chile, Montevideo

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