RWC Wrap - The False Dawn of the Minnows

It's one of the great strengths and weaknesses of Rugby that the scoreline always gives a true indication of the relative strengths of the combatants. Compared to soccer, where an inferior team can bore their way to a scoreless draw or clog up their goals after an early goal, in Rugby there's nowhere to hide and the better team will always triumph.

So what then to make of the opening matches of the Rugby World Cup? Well Romania, Tonga, Argentina, Italy, Japan, the USA and Wales all had their chances at embarassing their better credentialled opponents. But they didn't. Class, fitness, experience and arse ultimately won out.

England may have been ugly against Argentina but they won with 5 minutes of pizzazz. Australia needed 25 minutes of oomph. For France, 15 minutes of whoosh and they left Japan in their wake. Wales may have lost by one point to South Africa but poise under pressure went missing when needed.

It's the cavalcade of animated Batman noises that the second and third tier nations don't have and probably never will. Relatively speaking their standards will never improve as the IRB will never arrange for more high-profile matches against lower ranked opponents because there's no money in it. Rugby is a professional sport, and professionals and the powerbreakers that manipulate them need cash, and plenty of it if they're to keep interested beyond just the next World Cup or Lions tour.

So applaud and cheer the guts and dedication of the hapless Japanese, Italians and Romanians et al (the Rolling Maul did and does), but don't expect them to ever match the big boys. Triumphant minnows may make for good TV in the short term and delight the purists but it won't increase viewing numbers or advertising revenue.

But more streakers and more commentating from Gordon Bray just might!


Bro said…
Shouldn't that be 'powerbrokers", TRM? Mind you, powerbreakers might be just what's needed. Then the IRB could lend them to FIFA...