Is The 6 Nations Worth Playing?
With injured players filling up physio’s rooms at injury-laden clubs across the country, there was talk last autumn of the concept British and Irish Lions being redundant as a modern-day, touring test side. “Too many injuries” they said. “Too expensive” they said. Well, even the fair weather rugby fans knows this is of course total baloney – however it does raise a very valid point with regards to the over-stretched rugby calendar and the relevance of the tournaments that are currently in operation.
The RBS Six Nations so far has been less than inspiring. Sure there have been some moments of brilliance in the tournament (who can forget Shane Williams nifty footwork against the French for his 50th try in a red shirt and human battering-ram Mathieu Bastareaud ripping open defences in one hit) but as a whole, does the tournament really offer a benchmark of quality and dominance that is taken seriously by teams in the southern hemisphere? Perhaps not.
Take Ireland, for example. Sure they won the Grand Slam last year for the first time 61 years, but were they the ‘best’ or merely the ‘best of a bad bunch?’ Subsequent matches after the RBS 6 Nations, the team became lacksidasical and uninventive – hardy the type of rugby that inspires the next generation of players. What Joe Public looks forward to now are the big ‘power’ matches, such as the Investec Autumn Internationals. We want to watch Australia, New Zealand, South Africa (and even the Argies!) because let’s face it, the type of wide-playing, free-running rugby they play is the most exciting for players and fans… and we can learn how to replicate it!
The alternative is maybe a change to the rules to make the game more free flowing again. Outside of Williams try this season, and the odd interception, in todays modern game it’s about battering rams, not the beautiful running game (Nick vs Strings had a great debate about this in the office, one a big forward, the other a little back). Possibly limiting the number of rucks and malls, before the ball has to travel over 20 meters and or stopping the return kicking game.
That said, Twickenham will always sell-out, Murrayfield will always be singing ‘Scotland the Brave’ but are we getting to the stage where the RBS 6 Nations is too tired and the real test lies south of the equator? Only a British & Irish Lion can answer that…