There is a surreal atmosphere within rugby right now as excitement builds into the Autumn Internationals and the Women’s World cup reaches its climax with a dream final of England versus the Black Ferns, but off the field it is utter turmoil.
World Rugby’s positioning on player welfare, professional rugby in England at a crossroads and amateur participation levels down 30%, Welsh clubs refusing to allow an Independent Chairman to be appointed, FFR officials awaiting possible jail sentences including World Rugby’s vice chairman and former Head of RWC 2023, South Africa’s CEO trying to negotiate an exit… need I go on.
There are bright spots, such as rugby in Ireland and France at all levels. Chapeau. Oh, and Saracens playing without fear, on the gain line and ball in hand. Is Eddie watching?
The game is in crisis, but we will all wish it away while the Autumn Internationals take place and the World Cup countdown starts. The European nations could enjoy unprecedented success against their Southern Hemisphere rivals (good start over the weekend) but there is a lot of experimentation so don’t get too carried away in either direction!
Starting this week I am commencing a series of pieces to present some news and views on solutions to the undeniable fact that the game is at a crossroads and faces the biggest challenges of a generation.