The Six Nations is the premier tournament in the northern hemisphere and has remained a static six-country series since 2000. This year the championship adopted the bonus point system but it now seems that was not enough for World Rugby.
According to the Daily Mail, World Rugby’s vice-chairman Augustin Pichot has taken the view that the championship needs to change, more specifically, to adopt a promotion/relegation model that would allow ‘second tier’ sides the opportunity to take part.
With Italy continuing to remain the whipping boys of the spring tournament and with Georgia Rugby making significant strides in relation to the status within the sport, there has been a growing insistence from within the rugby community that perhaps it was indeed time to review the current Six Nations model with a view to giving new nations access to the tournament.
The Argentine player-turned-official understands his beliefs will not be universally well received.
“I’m sure it will touch a lot of nerves but I would urge the Six Nations to give other countries a chance.
“They don’t want a threat to the status quo. It’s been the same for years.
“We now have more fixtures for tier-two nations but that’s not enough. It would be great to have promotion and relegation. If we don’t challenge the status quo then rugby won’t grow and it will be stuck in Anglo-Saxon ways.’
“I don’t know how they created their own entity with no attachment to World Rugby.
“There needs to be more working together to take care of the global game. There are not just 10 teams in the world: the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship nations. It’s not right.
“It would be the best thing for rugby for countries like Georgia to have a chance.
“World Rugby will support them. The Six Nations are very conservative. It was a very similar situation with Argentina. Nations need to realise that we must grow the game.”
While the notion of making significant changes to the storied championship might stir up sentiments of defiance and horror, Pichot certainly makes a strong argument for change to be embraced. Having accepted a jump from five to six nations 17 years ago and then the adoption of the bonus points model this year, there is certainly a precedent for change within the test series.
Just as Italy was afforded the opportunity to compete, perhaps Pichot is correct in saying that other improving nations must also be given that same chance.
How such a model might be effectively implemented remains to be seen but it now looks like change is more than just a concept for the Six Nations, it could well be the future.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena