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Ex-Wales skipper's stinging World Rugby critique: 'What we have now is a circus run by clowns'

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A former Wales captain has claimed that rugby’s indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic has helped to highlight how the sport has become boring and more dangerous in recent years. The lack of live action has resulted in multiple broadcasters visiting their video vaults to show old rugby matches, allowing fans to compare what the game was like in years gone by with the spectacle the modern-day professionals now put on.


Paul Thorburn, the 57-year-old who won 37 Wales caps between 1985 and 1991, believes it has been illuminating seeing this alleged then and now difference. Writing on, the full-back – who later became the 1999 World Cup tournament director – slammed modern trends and expressed concern with World Rugby’s insistence that the sport is moving in the right direction.

“For me, nothing will change until we see a fatality on the field of play at international level – then there will be some serious questions to answer,” he wrote. “The recent pandemic restrictions and lack of live sport has presented the broadcasters and rugby enthusiasts with an opportunity to relive some historic sporting fixtures, including many incredible International matches dating back as far as the 1970s.

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“If ever there was an opportunity for World Rugby to see how the game flowed, how few injuries there were and how much space there was for players to express themselves, then it is now, so let’s hope that they haven’t all buried their heads in the sand and are thinking that the game is thriving and in good hands.”

Disappointed that the WRU gave its backing to current World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont in the latest election, Thorburn further criticised the residency qualification rules that will see the length of stay only extend from three to five years from the end of this year. “A strong leader would have prevented things exploding, and would have brought the European unions together to implement a sustainable and acceptable template.

“We would have a domestic programme where homegrown talent is at the core of recruitment and development; we would have a European competition based around homegrown talent, with competing teams having to field a predominance of home-nation qualified players. What we have now is a circus run by clowns.”


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