'An absolute nightmare...I wouldn't welcome it' - Richards pans RWC rethink
England great Dean Richards has branded plans to stage the Rugby World Cup every two years an “absolute nightmare” for the Gallagher Premiership and warns it could also hurt future British and Irish Lions tours.
Alan Gilpin, CEO of World Rugby, has floated the idea of holding the game’s major showpiece biennially rather than the current four year cycle.
However, Richards, the Newcastle Falcons director of rugby, believes this would be a mistake and will adversely impact on the Lions as well as current money spinning tournaments and the Autumn tests that put millions into the coffers of the Home Unions.
Richards, whose Falcons start their Premiership campaign against champions Harlequins on Sunday without captain Mark Wilson who needs knee surgery, said: “From a club’s perspective (changing the World Cup) would be an absolute nightmare it really would. I don’t know who has muted it or why but I wouldn’t welcome it. Holding it every four years makes it special and every two years would mean it becoming just another competition.
“It is then just like the European Cup and if you want to win the Olympics or the football World Cup it comes around once every four years and that break makes it special. It would challenge everything from the British Lions to the European Cups to Six Nations and pre-Christmas internationals. The money generated for the Rugby Football Union through having four pre-Christmas tests every second year is absolutely massive. Those are things that have to be considered and I am not necessarily convinced it’s a good thing one way or the other.”
Announcing the idea of changing the current calendar for the tournament, Gilpin told the Telegraph: “Biennial World Cups have been considered before and they’re definitely something that we will continue to consider. It’s an interesting concept, especially when you think about the global development of the women’s game too.
“But the men’s calendar is very congested and complex, with a lot of different stakeholders, and we have to make sure we engage with them all before we consider a World Cup every two years.”
Meanwhile, Richards is confident former Quins stalwart Mike Brown, who picked up a knock in their unbeaten pre-season matches, will be fit to face his former club but does not know the recovery time for Wilson. He explained: “There are few hangover injuries from last season and some picked up in pre-season and Mark Wilson is out with a knee injury at the moment which has been grumbling for a while and we have taken advice on it. As a result, he will have surgery on the knee this week and the time line depends on what comes out of the surgery. He will still be around and will have an effect on the group. “
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