Competitive Cup great for world rugby - White

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    25 Apr 2019     Getty Images

Writing in his column for, White acknowledged the role World Rugby was playing in ensuring rugby continued to develop around the world and increasing the competitiveness of the game.


He said based on their work that if rugby was measured by the quality that will be on show at the Rugby World Cup this year then World Rugby were in 'a hell of a good place'.

"If you ask anyone in Cardiff they'll tell you that Wales, the Six Nations champions, are going to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Their 14-Test win streak broke a 100-year record, they're second on the world rankings and they've been tipped as genuine contenders," he said.

"Third on the list are Ireland, European champions a year ago and the one team with a positive record against the All Blacks since the last World Cup.

"England will be close to unstoppable if they return to their form of a couple of years ago. South Africa and Australia have each won the tournament twice. The Wallabies were runners-up in 2015 and the Boks are upbeat after edging the All Blacks in Wellington last year.

"Scotland stopped the Wallabies twice in 2017 and, while France are battling right now, they've been to three finals," he said.

New Zealand's position of dominance had been challenged after losses to Ireland and South Africa, especially, since the last World Cup.
"The All Blacks are favourites to win their third straight world title, but the gap is much smaller than four years ago when there was clear daylight between New Zealand and everyone else, and that's one of the reasons everyone is excited about the 2019 event – there are more than five teams with a reasonable chance of winning it.

"It's phenomenal that the ninth Rugby World Cup, hosted for the first time in an Asian country is lining up to be the most competitive.

"That's something to be proud of and, if you did an audit on the game based on the start of the showpiece event, you have to say rugby is in a great place.

"People say the game is dying and World Rugby is an easy target for those who like to find fault, but that's because a lot of the work done behind the scenes goes unseen.

"The great thing about the FIFA World Cup is that no team has won back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1962. The last five soccer World Cups have been won by different teams and that level of competition makes lifting the trophy so much more special," he said.

White said World Rugby was spending around 25 million pound to help Tier 2 and 3 nations and around 5 million pound of that was spent on Tonga, Samoa and Fiji each year.

That investment was important in helping keep rugby competitive, he said, because World Rugby's goal was to be in a position where multiple teams could be in the running to win the World Cup.

"We don't want a game where 100 teams play, but only three can lift the trophy," he said.

And with the race to win this year well and truly open, he said it was a reflection of the job World Rugby was doing.