Why rugby will never be as big and global as soccer



They say rugby is the game for all shapes and sizes. If only this were true as a reference to countries as well.

In 2013, World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper, declared that the 2015 tournament would have “the most balanced and equitable match schedule in the history of the Rugby World Cup”.

In the lead up to the 2011 tournament, Samoa would create one of rugby’s most famous upsets by beating the Australian Wallabies in Australia. Samoa had one of their best ever assembled and prepared teams but would once again be up against an unfair match schedule.

They would play Wales only 3 days after their first game against Namibia and their last and deciding pool game against South Africa was scheduled only 4 days after a very physical Pacific Island encounter against Fiji. After playing Namibia, South Africa had 7 days to recover for Samoa.

In that same tournament, Tonga played the All Blacks in the opening game on a Friday and then had to play Canada 5 days later. Tonga lost that game 25 – 20 but had they won, France would not have qualified from pool A and would not have made the final.

2011 RWC match schedule with days between games

Then director of Rugby World Cup Limited, John O’Neil also stated “The message is that 2011 was the last time we could tolerate tier two nations having to face an unfair schedule.”

Four years on and we still face the saddest yet simplest of problems, which ironically, is also the games greatest problem. Simple because it’s an overnight fix that could’ve easily been done in the 4 years between tournaments. It’s the games greatest problem because it’s what prevents rugby from truly going global and outgrowing soccer as the world’s number one sport, which I truly believe rugby can do.

We’re currently in the middle of pool fixtures of the 2015 RWC and this is what the schedule looks like.

Scroll to Top