The Rugby World Cup bronze final will be played out between Wales and New Zealand this Friday in what will be the fanfare goodbye for both Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen. However, the final is nothing but a money spinner and goes right against World Rugby’s player welfare needs.
The final goodbye for two major Kiwi’s
Post 2019 Rugby World Cup, international rugby says goodbye to two of its most prestigious figures. Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen are both departing their roles after Friday’s games.
Despite the sensational careers of both men, and as a result of two great but not quite close enough campaigns, the All Blacks will be taking on Wales in the biggest waste of 80 minutes in the rugby calendar.
What this game should be about is celebrating the marvellous careers of two of the greatest international coaches to ever have walked this planet, but instead it’ll be two injured war-horses limping their way out of the World Cup.
Players should be allowed to fly home and recuperate
Having played five or six games each, plenty of players will be battered, bruised or playing partially injured.
To have to come out and play another match when the stakes are lower than the morale following two gut wrenchingly hard World Cup exits is tough, and ridiculous.
Having that time to lick your wounds, fly home and then begin regional training – non-contact of course – and you will have a better system for the players.
A system that World Rugby constantly tells us is in favour of ‘player welfare.’
Clearly, playing a game five/six days after a semi-final is against that mantra.
Clubs and regions could have players back sooner
Now, they can’t just be thrown into the regional or club system upon their arrival back home. They can obviously be actively engaged in classroom style analysis and walk throughs, but no contact.
This would help them mix in with the players they go back to join, especially with so many new faces part of each team.
In turn, this would take one or two weeks off their return time for their domestic side. Something that, certainly in Wales, is badly needed.
Bronze final just a money maker
It’s not rocket science that the bronze final is just there for additional money. No one really cares who is third and fourth at a World Cup.
If World Rugby want to make money, then they can do this and keep on top of player welfare.
All they’d have to do is introduce a Sevens like system where you play a plate tournament for those eliminated in the pool stages.
It could easily include all the teams and they could go on to play their final on the Friday, in place of the bronze final.
Not only does this save two teams welfare from short turnarounds, but it develops the tier two nations that fall out.
It brings their stars into the starlight and brings money from their little tournament, so that’s World Rugby satisfied.
You could suit it to be the top eight teams who didn’t qualify or include byes and give them extra rest days in-between.
“Main photo credit”