As we enter the fourth round of Super Rugby a cloud hangs low over who may, or may not be culled from next year’s competition. But in the north, particularly in England, Rugby is on the up-and-up; you all know that. What you might not be so familiar with is Rugby Europe, the governing body responsible for the administration of the game in that part of the world, and not just the traditional powerhouses in the Six Nations.

Rugby Europe have had quite the week as they look at their options of expanding the Six Nations or at least proposing a promotion/relegation system with their second tier competition The Rugby Europe Championship. This is obviously fraught with danger, both for the sport as a whole, and the administrators that hold the purse strings. Our northern counterparts need only look south to the current state of Super Rugby to see what expansion and spreading yourself too thin can do to the sport.

This reference to Super Rugby is possibly unfair on the north, given the relative quality of the sides in the second tier. This season’s competition contains no less than four nations who have been represented at past World Cups and who is to say that Italy is a better fit for the Six Nations than say Georgia? Or even Romania?

I think that there is a real opportunity to enhance the Six Nations, but more importantly, so do the Board of Directors of Rugby Europe. At their first meeting of the year, held last Thursday in Paris, this plan was debated.

Octavian Morariu, the President of Rugby Europe, had this to say, “The development of rugby in Europe entails each Union having the opportunity to play regularly with the best teams in order to raise standards. Promotion/relegation system belongs to Rugby Europe ethical code in all our competitions”.

play regularly with the best teams in order to raise standards
President of Rugby Europe – Octavian Morariu

The Board are going to have to break down a lot of traditional barriers and single-dimensional views of the masses, but they are certainly sending the right messages. “It is not about punishing a specific team because of its results in the Tournament. We don’t want to compromise what has been achieved until now, but opening a dialogue seems to us crucial for the benefit of all.” and I particularly like how open they are being “…open to consider all alternatives, either a direct relegation, the insertion of an annual or every two-year play-off system; the integration of one or two teams or the setup of a real European competition, etc… We are aware this process will require time to build a common project and achieve it; but we need to start a real collaboration in the interests of European rugby growth.”

I say hats off to them and I wish them all the very best. For a taste of what happened in Round Four of the Rugby Europe Championship check out some highlights here.

Round Four Quick Facts

  1. A crowd of 55,000 was on hand to watch Georgia defeat Russia in Tbilisi
  2. Florin Vlaicu made his 100th appearance for Romania
  3. The results mean that the final round has been set up for a winner takes all in Bucharest, with Romania hosting the Georgians
  4. The results also mean that any one of the other four nations; Spain, Germany, Russia, and Belgium can finish bottom and therefore face the uneasy promotion/relegation battle
  5. Romania’s backline included two Kiwis in Jack Umaga and Stephen Shennan. Auckland-born Luke Samoa was also on the bench

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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Author: Steven Prescott

I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.

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