What Can The Rugby World Cup Learn From The Cricket World Cup?

The Cricket World Cup has been going for many months already in case you hadn’t noticed, and quite frankly why would you? Endless games of meaningless rubbish between teams full of players no-one’s heard of from countries that don’t even really play cricket played out in front of half empty grandstands and broadcast in the middle of the night largely on Cable TV only. With a Rugby World Cup coming up in September the lessons are many and varied. And not just for the administrators. Players, fans, coaches and broadcasters need to learn from the mistakes of others or the Rugby World Cup could join the Cricket World Cup as a sporting anachronism that just seemed a good idea at the time.

So let the lessons commence:

1. No one even noticed that the Cricket World Cup started or took any interest until someone died. As far as marketing ploys go that was pretty desperate, but desperate times call for desperate measures and you can’t beat the murder of a coach after an upset win for headline grabbing attention. I’m not suggesting though that one of Rugby’s major coaches should be murdered. Actually I am.

2. Ensure the World’s number one team loses to a minnow. South Africa proudly boasted of taking the number one ranking from Australia in the build-up to the Cricket World Cup. For a team with a reputation as chokers that was a pretty brave call and sure enough when the heat was applied they collapsed in a heap against Bangladesh, a country where cricket is only played a few weeks each year as it is flooded for the remainder. The recriminations and excuses are a joy to behold, always are, as is the mad scramble from other uncompetitive nations such as England and the West Indies who suddenly think they’re in with a chance. So with this in mind it is beholden upon the All Blacks to lose, once again, before even reaching the final hurdle, and preferably to a minnow – like Wales.

3. Are World Cups for the World or for the locals? The International Cricket Council has decided on the former and to their detriment, stadiums are empty as ticket prices mean the locals can’t afford spending a week’s wages on the latest Scotland vs Bermuda blockbuster. Yet there is a positive; the West Indies lack of home-town support has seen them stumble to three successive defeats. The Rugby World Cup will be played in France, and a French victory in the World Cup and the subsequent thrusting of Gallic noses even further in the air must be avoided at all costs. So to prevent this, Rugby World Cup prices must be beyond the average Parisian’s reach. Fortunately, the Aussie dollar is doing quite well at the moment so at least there’ll be a scattering of green and gold.

4. What World Cup? Few people in Australia have cable TV and even those that do aren’t up at 3am to watch it. The French timezone isn’t great. Sure South Africans and Europeans are catered for but rugby in South Africa is a marginal sport for the vast majority of the population and a minority sport all over Europe except in Wales and they’ll be lucky to make the quarter-finals. Only in Australia and New Zealand is there enough support and likelihood of success that audiences can be guaranteed. The last Rugby World Cup in Australia proves the point. So play the matches at 3am France time, it’s the right thing to do for the good of the game.

5. Minnows are funny. They have funny names, are overweight and give social players hope they could compete on the world stage. Watching Herschelle Gibbs hit six sixes in an over off an unknown Dutchmen then pretend it mattered has been the Rolling Maul's highlight of the Cricket World Cup. Sure they’re cannon fodder but at the end of the day you want world records in World Cups. The answer is more teams, indeed I’d argue for all teams. No more of this nonsense qualification process, if Bosnia & Herzegovina (currently ranked 95th and last on the IRB rankings) and Finland (94th) want to play in the World Cup then put them up against the Springboks, Wallabies or All Blacks in front of an international audience. This has the added bonus of the Cup lasting at least six months and ensuring there's always something worth watching in the middle of the night.

Any other suggestions?

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