What Can the Rugby World Cup Learn From the Twenty20 World Cup?

Some time ago the Rolling Maul pondered the lessons that the Rugby World Cup could learn from the Cricket World Cup. Sadly, none of these recommendations were taken up.

No coaches have been killed (allegedly) for the sake of headlines, no minnows have proven to be giant killers (though Georgia came close), locals can afford ticket prices and are turning up in droves denying us the pleasure of laughing at empty stadiums, insane scheduling means games are being played at ridiculous hours so the supporters of the two best teams in the World sleep through their teams' games, and no world record thrashings have been recorded (because it's fun to watch minnows get massacred and to debate their worthiness).

Now, Australians (and New Zealanders) have two World Cups at the same time to sleep through - the Rugby World Cup and the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup. The Twenty20 is considered by many to be a success for all the reasons that the Cricket World Cup was considered to be a failure, namely that it's over so quickly that the players don't have a chance to get sick of playing such meaningless dross and the audience at home don't have time to get bored.

So if Twenty20 cricket, a sport that's as about as relevant to the real thing (Test Cricket) as sleeping in the wet patch is to sex (it's the price you pay), can be considered a success then what are the lessons for the Rugby World Cup?

1) The blink and you'll miss it principle. The shorter an event goes, the more 'must-see-ability' it has. Two weeks for Twenty20 is of course about 1 week 6 days and 23 hours too long, but at least you don't have to wait long for it to end. Too much Rugby, on the other hand, is never enough. So how to reconcile these opposing forces? Have a two week Rugby World Cup every three months. Promotions and relegations, divisions and pools, knock-out stages and grand finales. It's so crazy it's probably the most sensible thing the Rolling Maul has ever come up with.

2) The random finish for laughs and everyone's a winner principle (also known as the Twenty20 bowl-off). This is as opposed to the random finish and everyone's a loser principle that the penalty shoot-out in soccer is. In either case, like a good car crash or cleavage, you know you shouldn't but it's hard not to watch. Rugby threatens to have a field-goal-off if it gets that far but that misses the point. Bowlers are the engine room of cricket and forwards are the engine room of Rugby. So if everyone's to finish a winner then forwards need to determine the winner in the event of a tie at the Rugby World Cup. So the Rolling Maul proposes just that. A rolling maul set 20 metres out from the try line and three minutes to score. Five to each team and there's an extra half hour that even purists could enjoy.

3) The over-penalise the infringement and they won't do it again principle. The free-hit after a no-ball in Twenty20 may be one innovation too far but it does make bowlers toe the line (pun intended). in this spirit, the Rolling Maul proposes extending the card system beyond just red and yellow. Any penalty deserves more than a simple three points on offer if close enough. Send the offender off for good (a black card). It won't take long for the team with six players left to get the message that if they just played it straight they could wallop the team with four-players left. The IRB wants to clean up the game - well there's your answer.

Any other suggestions?

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