Ten Rugby World Cup Takeaways

The global gathering which reminded us of how small the sport really is

George Horne and Finn Russell returned home from France after Scotland failed to make an impact in an admittedly tough pool. Image:: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
George Horne (left) will partner Finn Russell at half-back against Italy. Image:: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

1. It’s a tiny elite that can actually win a RWC

New Zealand versus South Africa was probably not the final that anyone wanted … except Bokke and Black fans … obviously. Only four nations have ever won the ultimate prize stretching all the way back to the inaugural RWC in 87, in the stone age or, as it’s also known, the amateur era. Only four nations had any realistic chance of winning this tournament. It’s not the fault of the world’s two most successful teams that they remain rooted in perpetuity at the pinnacle of the sport but we had high hopes for hosts France or Ireland to lift silverware, or for Fiji to make a first ever visit to the semi-finals, or even Scotland to rise to the occasion rather than sink without trace. As exciting as the final was, we desperately need some fresh blood challenging at the sharp end or the competition and if this multi-talented French squad could not do it with all the advantages of playing on home soil you have to worry if they ever will? Perhaps playing RWC27 in Australia’s dry summer without the pressure of the home support will actually help Les Blues?

2. The final was decided by a red card, sadly

World Rugby trialed a system whereby a player who was red-carded would leave the field for 20 minutes before being replaced by someone else. What the heck happened to that perfectly good idea? This is not to excuse Sam Cane although it is impossible not to feel a smidgen of sympathy for the Kiwi captain. Players need to understand that to go into a tackle with your head up is inviting disaster. Under the current regulations, Cane’s challenge was a red card all day long and, in what was a one point game, that card surely proved the difference.

Perhaps introduce an orange card for accidental high hits, to distinguish them from blatant foul/cynical play, with a 20 minute sanction?

3. Scotland are not as good as they led us to believe

In the game against South Africa, Scotland showed their competitive chops in the first half but were steamrollered in the second. Against Ireland, for the second successive RWC, the Scots were never at the races, conceding an early score and never seriously threatening the men in green who had the job done by the 60 minute mark when they led 36-0 and had already taken off their key men to protect them ahead of their quarter-final. Mack Hansen helped create the opener, earning an ‘assist’ for James Lowe’s try but when did Duhan van der Merwe ever appear on the ‘wrong’ wing for Scotland? Ireland’s second try against Scotland came from a set-piece play so where were Scotland’s brains trust? The Scots were like deer in headlights in the face of the Irish press defence. Scotland’s Gregor Townsend insists on going around it but Ronan O’Gara (in a pre RWC interview with Jim Hamilton) insists you have to go through it. I know which coach I trust. Teams like Ireland are beatable but Townsend failed to inspire his side four years ago and failed again four odd weeks ago. Personally, I abandoned all hope when Ali Price started talking about the power of positive thinking. If nothing else, Townsend should at least have the good sense to stop bigging his team up ahead of key games. Only two coaches stated that they accepted ‘full responsibility’ for their team’s RWC exit, Townsend and Eddie Jones. It is (see 7 below) an utterly hollow and meaningless claim unless followed up by a resignation, which only one of those two coaches has offered. It would be interesting to see how far a world class coach could take Scotland’s “best ever squad”? Perhaps we will find out in Australia?


Scotland crowned WXV2 champions

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4.  There was only one winner but many teams enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame (hat tip to Squidge Rugby on X)

So France beat New Zealand in that pulsating opening match at the Stade de France and people who were there insist that it was the most manic and magical atmosphere they have ever encountered. New Zealand beat their bogey team Ireland, a victory made all the sweeter after Peter O’Mahony dubbed the Kiwi skipper Sam Cane “a sh#t Richie McCaw”. Cane was obviously outstanding against Ireland. In addition, Ireland enjoyed their moment by beating the eventual champions and confirming in doing so that leaving Handrè Pollard at home was a howler. Wales beat Australia and Fiji. Fiji beat the Wallabies for the first time in 69 years, the Wallabies beat …nah, only joking. The Wallabies failed to beat anyone of any consequence, unless you count the 34-14 victory over Portugal. Portugal beat Fiji and drew with Georgia with huge kudos going to French coach Patrice Lagisquet. Samoa came within a point of beating England and Borthwick’s bunch finished third overall ffs! I reckon just six RWC teams earned little or no consolation prize: Italy, Australia, Namibia, Romania, Georgia and, sorry to say, Scotland, unless you count the 84-0 win over Romania.

5. England grew as the tournament progressed

You wouldn’t open the curtains if England were playing a Test in your back garden but they took full advantage of a soft pool and a kind draw to stay in France far longer than anyone inside or outside the camp suspected. The 14 man win against Argentina was genuinely impressive as was the strong showing against South Africa in that semi-final. You knew Rassie was taking the threat seriously as Handre Pollard was whistled off the bench after just 30 minutes. Goodness only knows what that will do to the confidence of Mannie Libbock but he will presumably spend a little longer on his extras after training. Several players stood up and stood out for England including Ben Earl and, in the final game, Sam Underhill, both of whom you suspect will be starting in white when England faces Italy on 3rd February.  England’s problem is that their game is built on the set-piece foundations, especially the scrum. But they lost to South Africa because their second choice props Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge were unable to provide the scrum stability provided by veterans Dan Cole and Joe Marler who have now retired from Test rugby. You cannot compete at the top level without world class props.

6. The Americas could host an interesting and competitive Six Nations of their own

The performances of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay were hugely encouraging for rugby in South America even if the northern half of that continent failed to qualify for France 2o23. This is important. Rugby’s footprint on the world is miniscule with next to no representation across vast swathes of the globe: China, India, Indonesia, Africa (Southern Africa excepted), Germany, the whole of Scandinavia, much of Eastern Europe (Georgia/Romania excepted) and the Middle East. Two thirds of the planet haven’t even heard of the game let alone give any hoots about it. This is dreadful for a game that pretends to be worldwide and you have to wonder why World Rugby are so poor at spreading the gospel? There was a Pan American tournament (PARA) that took place sporadically between 1995-2003 that could be resuscitated. At least a Pan-American tournament, the nations operate on similar time zones, could grow into something interesting and may awaken the so-called ‘sleeping giant’ that is the USA. Absolutely nothing else has worked to date.

7.  The TMO should shut his (or her) yap

One referee I know commented that the current system is undermining the man with the whistle rather than supporting him. The constant chirping from the man/woman in the booth (in Paris) who wants to look at a knock on from fifteen phases back ruined more than one match. If the three match officials between them miss a knock on in the build up to a try then too bad. Match officials make mistakes, deal with it. The TMO should only be used for foul play and for the grounding of tries where multiple replays can prove useful. Otherwise sit back and pipe down. Please.

 

8. Sooner or later Eddie Jones will throw you under the bus

The gobby Aussie coach didn’t leave a great many friends in England after several years of under-performance which he laughably pinned on the public school system. Fast forward to RWC’23 and Jones brought a hugely inexperienced Australian squad to France, personified by 22-year-old Carter Gordon. Not only did Jones pick just the one specialist fly-half in his squad, which was madness, but he picked one who had just a handful of caps to his name and was not noticeably proficient off the tee. The Wallabies duly endured their worst ever RWC, exiting at the group stage, while Gordon was replaced at 10 by Ben Donaldson, a specialist full-back and kicker. The Aussies lost to Fiji for the first time in 69 years before imploding against a somewhat ordinary Welsh team who chalked up 40 points while keeping their line intact against a nation that has produced finishers like David Campese and Drew Mitchell. The latter roasted Jones when the coach had the brass neck to state: “It’s my fault, I take full responsibility” for the Welsh fiasco. “What the f#ck does that even mean,” raged Mitchell, “He (Jones) doesn’t get dropped this week”. Worse was to follow as Jones explained that he had overlooked Michael Hooper, Australia’s sometime skipper and their best player of the last decade by a margin, because he “didn’t have the right character”. Hooper declined to bite back, stating instead that “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion”, which shows the sort of class that Jones can’t even imagine. Jones resigned from the Wallabies job just days after insisting he was committed to the project. Goodness knows how much he pocketed for doing so? Is any nation out there stupid enough to offer the clown another performance? Almost certainly.

9. There are far too many substitutions in the game

A full eight substitutes favours the bigger nations with more strength in depth and penalises the smaller nations who may have no more than a handful of competitive players to call upon at international level. But it is horribly difficult to find a way back towards the old ways of asking/expecting 15 players to play 80 minutes. Perhaps only allowing players to be replaced if an independent doctor verifies the injury and always takes exactly five minutes doing so, during which time the side who requires the substitution has to play short-handed? This would discourage players from abusing the system with a sudden hamstring pull but still encourage genuinely injured players to be replaced as playing five shorthanded minutes is a better option than having a right winger with a broken leg. Playing for 80 minutes was always part of the game and it should be that way again. This law change would dismantle the Bokke bomb squad, which got South Africa out of jail against England and, in the process, gave us a far better final.

10. Drop goals are back, kinda

Drop goals are a little like flared jeans, they go in and out of fashion as the generations come and go. When you are an oldie like me who can remember Jannie de Beer’s five against England in the RWC’99 quarter-final it is somewhat comforting to see the likes of George Ford remind everyone that an easy three is just a swing of the boot away. Not everyone jumped on the bandwagon. There were just eight drop goals in all throughout RWC’23 of which five went to England. The other three were claimed by Japan, Uruguay and Wales …. but you knew that already.


Scotland crowned WXV2 champions

About Iain Morrison 151 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

49 Comments

  1. I come from a working class football background and I love Rugby’s values.Since I took a real interest in the sport I have visited rugby clubs all over the central belt and have been always been welcomed and found the snobbery I expected to find non-existent. Such as refreshing change from the idiocy and sectarianism in football. Rugby has now replaced football as my favourite sport. I now have a season ticket for Glasgow Hawks and its the highlight of my week going along to support

    • I have to agree with Andy. I grew up a football fan but have been delighted to find my two sons keen followers, with myself, of the Warriors and my highlight so far has been to be with them in Dublin for the match against Toulon, just a shame about the performance/result. However, I trust in Franco to get us to another final and be successful

  2. I come from a working class football background and I love Rugby’s values.Since I took a real interest in the sport I have visited rugby clubs all over the central belt and have been always been welcomed and found the snobbery I expected to find non-existent. Such as refreshing change from the idiocy and sectarianism in football. Rugby has now replaced football as my favourite sport. I now have a season ticket for Glasgow Hawks and its the highlight of my week going along to support

    • @Andy Black….sorry only seeing this now.

      There was an interview with Sean Lineen there recently where he talked about his thoughts on this, and they are not far off my own.

      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/im-away-from-the-sru-but-not-scottish-rugby-i-can-be-a-fan-now-sqhpm2p5j

      The only other parts I’d add is to step away from traditional rugby schools as THE only answer for new playing talent. State funded schools have a hive of young talent just waiting to be tapped that we are losing to other sports.

      That combined with a national program to highlight rugby in the best possible light to and children alike That has government support at a national and local level.

  3. Rules changes:
    Tactical substitutions to be severely limited/scrapped. Makes the game safer and brings back stamina as a requirement and not just brute strength.
    4 points for a drop goal. It requires a team effort to engineer the space and is an efficient way of scoring and restarting – no countdown clock required.
    Can’t score directly from a maul. Might be hard to officiate but find it dull when scores are simply a matter of piling everyone into a huge melee.
    Get rid of scrum penalties, free kicks instead. Why is it that you are often penalized simply because the opposing player is better than you? And scrum penalties are such a lottery too. Brings me onto “Rule Enforcement”:
    Scrum steady before put in
    Ball fed straight down middle of scrum to make it a decent contest.
    The whole role of TMOs needs reviewing and clarifying. Can’t believe that Criel’s high “tackle” on Dempsey wasn’t brought to refs attention and yet other more minor incidents were. Just undermines everyone’s faith in their role.
    Scotland performance:
    Have to come up with a strategy for the rush defence which is down to coaches. Chips just behind the defensive line or little grubber kicks surely more contestable than most of the high-hoisted box kicks which often end up with the opposition running back at us. What about pick and goes round the fringes, playing more off 9 rather than shipping the ball to Finn and expecting him to produce some magic when starved of time and space. Our aesthetically pleasing loops by the midfield just can’t work when defenses rush up. Surely we must have some ideas by now??!!
    Also need to sort out the breakdown- we need a plan to make the most of a smaller but (hopefully) more mobile pack and please stop so many incidents of runners getting isolated, it’s basic stuff.
    Set piece; have to get line outs sorted. Always seems so unreliable compared to other teams when it’s largely a matter of practice to ensure everyone knows what their role is for each line out call. That’s what pro players and coaches are paid to do!!
    The joys of being a Scotland fan …

  4. For what it’s worth, a few musings on Scotland’s RWC and law changes.
    We just can’t cope with rush defenses at the moment, surely this is a coaching issue? Little chips over the top of the defensive line or grubber kicks into contestable space, at least forcing the defence to turn would be far preferable to constant sky-high hoofs which give time for the defending team to get organised and usually just run back at us. Play a bit more off 9 – remember Laidlaws performance against Argentina a few seasons back – or pick and goes round the breakdown to keep teams guessed. Constantly shipping the ball to a targeted 10 who has little space to operate doesn’t make sense vs the likes of Ireland or the Boks; our visually impressive looping moves don’t work with no space. And please, get the best breakdown coach we can find to work out how a smaller, more mobile pack can win at breakdowns. And fix the line out!
    Definitely time to get rid of/severely restrict the use of tactical subs, it’s dangerous and encourages brute force rugby.
    I hate scrums being used to simply milk the penalty. Getting rid of subs would help as would properly reffing the existing laws on feeding straight to a stable and static scrum.
    I would also have 4 points for a drop-goal. Requires more team skill to create the right field position and also means the game is Re-started quicker – no wasted time lining up a kick as for a penalty or conversion.
    TMOs – not easy to get the balance right. Probably groundings and foul play. Though the latter seems to cause a lot of problems. How Criel was carded I just don’t know, so obvious and if an obscure forward pass is picked up, surely such a visible head collision should be seen and alerted to the ref. Can’t comment on TMOs broader role until the most basic tasks are correct and consistent.
    Just hope we get at least 3 wins this 6N; anything less and I fear that’ll trigger a rapid decline in our world ranking.

  5. I had resigned my Scotland hopes to the bin when he 2nd half of the RSA match was in play. We keep doing the same things and expecting a different outcome. That’s the definition of a fool.

    We need to stop the SRU turning our game into a branding and balance sheet exercise. Its embarrassing. Take a wrecking ball to the whole lot of them.

    Our pathways are decimated, underfunded, and lost to the wind. All because these blazers don’t want to give up their comfy seats of privilege.

    I’ve lived and coached in Ireland for 20 years and its embarrassing to have to have this conversation with my Irish coaching colleagues every time a major tournament comes around. Its a sympathetic “ah better luck next time” conversation with a pat on the head, and it sickens me!

    In reality the Irish are laughing at the SRU and thankful that they are so inept, devoid of a compass, and face down in the water. We used to regularly thrash the Irish within an inch of their lives. I don’t know how many times I saw the “yeah but you’ve never made a semi-final” argument come out over the world cup when Scottish fans engaged with Irish fans. They’ve been number 1 in the world and beat the reigning champs twice in 12 months, not to mention turned over the Kiwis in the own back yard.
    We need to step away from histrionics and stop clinging to nostalgia. Its embarrassing.

    They ripped off the bandage and made the changes needed including funding, national player recruitment programs, and only brining the very best coaching staff to get the job done at club, provincial and international level.

    Just accept that we are a Tier 2 nation from now on, that’s used to mediocrity, as nothing is going to change until the union has been wrestled back from these chanty wrastlers and footpads.

    We will amount to nothing without the backing of a union that gives us a supply of homegrown talent to match those of our neighbours.

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    • I feel your pain Grant.

      But…. This really isn’t down to the “blazers”. If by that you mean the committee people.

      You may recall some posters here were fond of the phrase – let the professionals do their job. Well they have and we are reaping the results of that.

      My sense is that we are at a current high water level. The next decade is going to be painful. I fully expect us to demonstrate our 2nd tier status in that timeframe when relegation from 6N happens.

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      • How can we be satisfied with this?

        It is the fault of the blazers and the union….who else’s fault could it be? They make the strategic decisions and set the strategic glidepath for the coming years. They have sat back and allowed our union to become a mediocre organisation that cannot field a team to compete on a world stage at any age level.

        It is not a generational accident that Ireland have become what they have. It was a noted intent to not stand still, to do the hard yards, and face the fact they were absolutely starting at zero again as a rugby nation. They understood it would take time, and perhaps a generation to fix it. But to get there needed commitment, a long term, achievable goal, that is measurable, and changeable if need be. But most of all they needed the backing of the union in buying into the plans of the group that would deliver this.

        I refuse to accept that this was not possible for Scotland. It absolutely was. They just sat back and remembered 1990/91 & 99 as our glory years and used that as a defence against poor performance. Recent Calcutta Cups aside what have we done?

        I fail to see the correlation between zero six nations since its inauguration, and most recently two group stage exits from the last two world cups and the professionals doing their job.

        If I performed like that in my job I’d have got the sack…its simply not a high performance standard.

        What’s needed is a transformational leader to come in and change the way the org. works, how the rugby decisions and strategy are made, and get rid of the smell of defeat that we have become so used to…

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    • As a coach, surely you can see that the “blazers” made a BIG mistake by extending GT’s contract before the WC.

      From your experience in Ireland, do you think that Farrell could have made more of the Scotland squad or are we simply deluding ourselves ?

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      • Sorry guys. Blazers is a derogatory term used for amateur committee folks. All these decisions were made by non exec and exec directors of what was SRU Ltd.

        Should they have been able to do that? Possibly not. Though as someone who voted through some of these powers at the time it wasn’t obvious that it would be used in the way it was.

        I’m certainly not happy with where we find ourselves in world, 6N, pro and club rugby.

        The new governance system is kicking into gear and I’m hopeful of better decisions from that. But time will tell.

      • I think Farrell wouldn’t have come near our union with a bargepole. Just look at the coaches we’ve had.

        When was the last time we had someone of Farrells level?

        A real players coach who leads with emotion, intelligence, and an absolute belief in his squad.

        Tactically I believe he would have made a far better job. He’s a project coach who sees every game as an opportunity to find a way to win.

        Townsend doesn’t know how to do that.

        From a team culture perspective Farrell has created a dressing room thats cohesive, confident, and knows its job inside out.

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  6. Free kick for a scrum infringement and do the beach to 6. Tactical substitutions have ruined the game.

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    • most scrum infringements are a free kick for a 1st offence. 2nd offence gets upgraded to a pen, kick at goal or to touch and line out maul and…….
      Make all offences FKs and you will get more scrum offences, and may as well do away with them and play rugby league

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      • Better that than tight games being decided on scrum penalties and the sole mission of props being to eke out these penalties. Also why should a weaker scrum be penalised for being shunted backwards. You wouldn’t penalise a wing for being slower than his opposite number. World Rugby needs a hard look at the scrum. Agree with comments elsewhere that a limit should be put on the number of phases played close to the line. Watching massive heavyweights trying to force their way over from a metre out after endless phases hardly makes for exciting rugby

      • Scrum penalties are ruining games (SA v Eng?) and creating a breed of front rows whose main role is to eke out these penalties. Of course changing to free kicks will have consequences (unintended or not) but these will probably reduce the chances of tight games being decided by a scrum ‘offence’

  7. The TMO situation I agree with. Im not sure what the rules say about their area of involvement. In some games you don’t hear much from them other than foul play and confirming tries. In other games as iain suggests the TMO is forever chipping in on a whole variety of issues – knock ons, foot in touch, forward passes. Whatever the guidance is they should be consistent and they are not with a wide range of inputs.

  8. Contract situation means GPJT is definitely getting the 2024 6N as a minimum.

    Anything less than 3 wins and he should go.

    Jamie Joseph to replace him?

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    • I wouldn’t say no to Jamie Joseph though I’d really hope Gregor gets the 3 wins to save his job for a few months longer!

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    • The key question to be asked is whether this team would be performing to a higher level if we had a different coaching team? Dodson nailed his colours when appointing a rookie international coach, and has doubled down in extending his contracted without any regard to team getting out of the group.Townsend has had 2 RWC cycles to make his mark. Not sure any other coach has been in post for such a continuous period. What are his key performance indicators?

  9. No 8 isn’t actually news to anyone of course but perhaps Jones could be best remembered as the first coach to ruin two countries chances at the same RWC?

  10. Good analysis Iain.

    Much to ponder and law changes required. Definitely with subs. Bringing in a whole new front row for last 30 mins or so isn’t good for anyone except SA!

    Sports people need a strong positive mindset when going into competitions, so no criticism there. But I’m struggling to identify what it is that makes this Scottish squad the best ever.

    Yes the other half was “easier” but at best that was a quarter slot. Which would be a high for us but hardly befitting of the best ever tag.

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    • At best a quarter slot? Completely disagree with you there. There’s no recent evidence to suggest that any of England, Fiji, Wales or Argentina would be favourites to beat us currently. There’s every bit of evidence to suggest that Ireland, SA, NZ and France would do.

      Ireland and the Springboks are the two teams who’s playing style is least suited to ours. It’s on our coaching team that we haven’t been able to find anything resembling a solution to that. However, on the other side of the draw, we’d have been a strong bet for the semis (where we’d likely have been well beaten).

  11. What further proof do we need that Townsend cannot deliver when it matters?

    Give Richie Toulon Gray whatever he wants.

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  12. did Scotland perform below expectations?

    In the sense that we were totally outplayed by Ireland, could say that. Against SA, we held them and should have gone at HT in the lead, perhaps a different outcome? Unlikely but who knows. We ended up losing to the champions.
    Bit being in the same pool as Ireland and SA, deservedly the top 2 ranked teams in the world I have to say that my expectations were that we would go out in the pool stage, as we did. In that sense we performed to expectations. Anyone saying otherwise was deluding, is deluding themselves.
    I was still gutted on our exit of course!

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    • While we were perhaps going to have to overachieve to qualify, to only score 3 points in 3 half’s of rugby against the top two, was IMHO below expectation. Three years of planning should’ve produced more than that.

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  13. Scotland’s issue is having too many opensides in their back row and too many blindsides in their 2nd + having no percentage game to back up the flair.
    With Ben Healy emerging we do have an option of having Kyle Steyn, Chris Harris or maybe a youngster like Stafford MacDowall in the squad and reverting to a hit up + kick/ chase tactic if we needed to.

    Not pretty but against a team like Ireland having the option might have been useful.

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  14. A big reason rugby is globally small is because it has a poor culture.

    It’s a middle class non inclusive sport and has been since its split with League.

    It retains sanctimonious anachronistic values that exclude large numbers of people (probably a majority) who don’t fit in and look hypocritical when the people who espouse them laud people like the perpetually inappropriate Joe Marler for being a rugby character or Owen ‘no arms’ Farrell escapes a ban for some egregious head to head tackle.

    This culture of defining yourself by who you exclude permeates all the way up to the ridiculous international tiering system that no other global sport I know of mimics. Or would even entertain.

    Yes – the rules could do with a brush up. It’s sad that a percentage team like SA have won consecutive WCs, but the biggest problem is culture IMHO.

    It sucks.

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    • Couldn’t disagree more. It’s got nothing to do with exclusivity, but accessibility. Pick up a football, kick it against a wall, it’ll come back you. You can play and practice by yourself. Rugby, that is far more challenging, if not impossible. You need players, you need a team. That’s the first and biggest barrier. After that, it’s a complicated game with many rules, positions and nuances. And lastly, it’s very physical. Not everyone wants to smash bodies together. Rugby athletes, generally, have a short shelf life, with the odd exception. It was a middle class sport, for sure. But not like it used to be and players from all walks of life are accepted. Certainly in the UK anyway.

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      • I agree, my son is a huge rugby fan and we travel to Warriors games but there is no team near him to play in. Sadly his story will be repeated all over the country.

      • I’m not talking about participation, I’m talking about why people don’t even watch the game.

        The rules are difficult but the sport is still good to watch. I don’t think that’s the problem.

        I firmly believe rugby’s non-inclusive culture turns people off.

        For example, the first thing you get when you join a rugby club is some sanctimony about rugby values. Probably from someone drinking a yard.

        Go to a football club and nobody cares.

        Rugby needs to recognise how it looks to people out of the sport.

        It’s not diverse, large numbers of people wouldn’t feel at home in a rugby club.

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    • I agree with you here, and on your point about ‘values’.

      Even look at trying to join a rugby club as an adult beginner, it’s basically impossible. There are no clubs set up for newcomers to the game unless you’re a kid or if you want to play touch. Your best option is to join one at uni, but again, that isn’t fully accessible and has its own reputation which puts people off. If you have’t started playing rugby before you leave uni and reach your mid-20s, you won’t break into a club as an adult.

      Literally anybody at any age can find a welcoming beginner-friendly club to play football, or even just book to go play 5s with their own pals. Rugby desperately needs spaces for people to go and play casually, as well as clubs that genuinely want newcomers to try the sport, even if they’re older.

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    • I come from a working class football background and I love Rugby’s values.Since I took a real interest in the sport I have visited rugby clubs all over the central belt and have been always been welcomed and found the snobbery I expected to find non existent. Such as refreshing change from the idiocy and sectarianism in football. Rugby has now replaced football as my favourite sport. I now have a season ticket for Glasgow Hawks and its the highlight of my week going along to support

  15. Scotland didn’t turn up. Deja Vu. Real shame, given the promise of the team. Draw was a nightmare scenario, but to not then fire a shot is hard to take. How do we grow from here? Same again next World Cup? I’m personally minded to stick with Toonie but the question needs asked.

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  16. My top twelve takeaways (apart from my local Chinese, which did a roaring trade on matchday evenings):

    – Ireland will be kicking themselves, for they were perfectly capable of winning the trophy ands were the only team to beat the Saffers;

    – Scotland can do it for 40 minutes, but never the entire game. We were narrowly behind the Saffers 6-3 at half time and won the second half against the Irish. But it ain’t worth a hill of beans if you can’t make it stick for the full 80;

    – Scottish forwards are not as good as their top-class opposite numbers, a fact that grieves me considering our proud warrior history;

    – There’s been a lot of talk around whether after six years and an empty trophy cabinet Townsend is the right man to change our fortunes. Whether he is or not, a decision ought to have been made – one way or another – after this tournament. There was absolutely no point giving him a contract which runs for another two years, which takes us halfway through the next World Cup cycle. The build-up starts now and the way forwards must be both consistent and crystal clear;

    – The next World Cup will be our final chance of glory for the foreseeable. Most of our players will be approaching – or just past – the age of 30, while Finn will hopefully still be a perfectly serviceable stand-off at 35. Thereafter there appears to be very little talent in the pipeline to fill the boots of giants like Hogg, Russell and friends.

    Fiji were outstanding, despite their scant resources. A team coached until recently by Big Vern and it showed;

    – The authorities have missed a trick in their format shake-up by not having a loser’s plate for the bottom eight nations, who will be robbed of their fourth match. For a lot of them it is a massive expense to travel so far, only to get cuffed three times and then sent straight back home again. There were several good games between the so-called minnows and a plate contest would add real incentive to them. It’s how you grow the game, if you’re genuinely serious about that kind gf thing. And on that topic I’d be fuming with the new world tournament if I was a Samoan. What a backward step that is, in so many ways;

    – The Italians are as hopeless as ever and performed worse that Georgia or Portugal. There should be a promotion/relegation playoff each year between the top team in Europe versus the Six Nations wooden spooners. The Eyeties say they are much better than the rest – fine, then prove it. It will at least keep them honest and then we can once more genuinely talk about growing the game. Yes it might apply to Scotland one day, but frankly any team that finishes bottom and then fails to make good on its shot at redemption deserves to go down. It’s called merit – as opposed to a closed shop – and this is now a European tournament, not a home nations event. Which is why we need to keep the Saffers from entering and turning it into a benefit gig for them.

    – The bunker seemed pointless to me. It deflected responsibility from the referee and did not improve the consistency of decision-making. It certainly didn’t prevent Kriel escaping a red card against Scotland despite there being obvious dangerous head contact with no redeeing features as far as I could see. Dip? Naw, seriously? The ref as the man on the spot has the benefit of as many replays as he likes to come to the correct right decision, rather than deferring it to a portacabin in a galaxy far, far away;

    – The cameramen had carte blanche to pick out the most attractive women in the crowd and they went about their business with a will. In this day and age some may consider it sexist, but I have no problem with it whatsoever. To me some of the South American ladies were pretty stunning, although my wife punched me for noticing;

    – Coolest jersey (apart form Scotland of course): the Argentina change strip;

    – Best player name: Mike Tadjer.

    To conclude, there probably won’t be a poster out there who agrees with all of what I’ve said, but even still it feels great to get it off my chest!

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      • Agree with the idea of a Plate competition (as happens in 7s). Otherwise what is the point of the so-called lesser countries turning up for the RWC if there is nothing there for them other than a tanking from the likes of SA

  17. On Scotland I think the SRU need radical change in all departments. Ireland have a world class setup with a similar population to ours and are reaping the awards at club and international level. This World Cup will be a huge disappointment to them and France but those two teams are here to stay, and have the infrastructure to continue producing elite players. Scotland on the other hand have no structure and kid themselves that they do. U16 and u18 selection for Edinburgh/Glasgow/Borders/Caledonia just to play 3 games is not even pre season let alone a full season to develop young players. No wonder we rely on importing talent from abroad since we completely fail to develop our own players here. The changes required aren’t super radical, nor that expensive, they just require competence and fundamentally, are more cultural changes. End the jobs for the boys culture, and hire experienced and competent people. From the top to bottom we are plagued by this culture. Seems idiotic to hire inexperienced people to coach youth teams and oversee youth development yet Scotland do it and several players who’ve been in that rightly describe it as a circus full of clowns who have no idea what they are doing.

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  18. My thoughts on RWC23 for what they are worth.
    Some terrible refereeing the Wales v Fiji game being the worst and the Samoan try cancelled way after the kick against England another. TASanalytics on YouTube does some great stuff on refereeing. To me the T1 nations were given the rub of the green over T2 nations more often than should have been the case.
    The draw was a disaster enough said the top 5 teams in one half of the draw.
    Some of the smaller countries did well Portugal and Uruguay but the biggest surprise was the Pacific Island teams reunited with all their eligible players who played some good hard skillful rugby, which bodes well for 2027 for them.
    There were so many games decided by tiny margins, Kolbe’s, dubious charge down of the Ramos conversion, Sexton missing a sitter penalty that would have left them only needing a drop goal in that 37 phase last session instead of a try.
    The physicality of some of the games was impressive Ireland v South Africa , England v South Africa.
    Biggest disappointments Italy , Australia, Argentina , Northern hemisphere teams not reaching the final.
    Sad but not unexpected Scotland not making the 1/4’s, it was always a big ask especially when South Africa turned up in good enough form to eventually win, I felt our only chance of exiting the pool was beating them as Ireland just have the total measure of us at the moment.
    Best fairly tale ending South Africa’s Deon Fourie plucked at 37 from obscurity to RWC winner beat that.

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  19. For me, the old adage that forwards win matches was underlined. Scotland has a decent bunch of forwards, but until we have more forwards who are genuinely brilliant at all aspects of the game, we are going to come unstuck.

    If we are having a go at the laws, then I would like the clock stopped until the ball is put into the scrum. Far too much time is lost setting (and resetting) the scrum.

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  20. Scotland were very disappointing without there being any consequences at all. Will things improve? Unlikely. The failure to develop pro A teams. The record of the 20s speaks for itself. The discarding of our sevens programmes without any debate at all. I am sure we will be reading in a glossy SRU publication soon how well the World Cup sent for us. All is well in the land of the SRU.

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    • The SRU only has limited resources. We will likely begin a significant downturn in our fortunes after the next world cup. Unfortunately, investment in youth development and sevens have been deprioritized in order to focus on the Women’s game and Dodson’s salary.

  21. My takeaways are that there are several rule changes required to improve the game.Agree that the sub rule needs changed and I would only allow subs on for injuries. The maul needs to be outlawed as it is currently nonsensical to have 4/5 players in front of the ball carrier and it is so difficult to legally stop the maul . The mark in defending 22 also makes no sense and should be removed and let’s put the ball straight into the scrum. The game also needs to go back to rucking with your feet and remove the dangerous jackalling. The back lines also need to go back 5 yards to create more space. There should also be cap on phases of 10 tackles. There are too many players on the pitch but we will never introduce 13 players a side but it would be a better game if both codes combined.

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    • Scrum and subs definitely need attention. Limiting subs would probably mitigate the scrum issues a bit as front row players would have to focus more on stamina than strength and bulk.

      But, if you remove the mark then you significantly reduce the jeopardy in just bombing the ball into the opponents’ territory. You’d find everyone starting to play like they did in THAT semi-final.

      • A mark, kicked to touch, should result in your throw – like a penalty. That would reduce the amount of kicking in the middle third and force teams to play more handling rugby.

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