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D'Arcy Waldegrave: World Rugby's recommendations are just word soup

D'Arcy Waldegrave,
Publish Date
Sat, 2 Mar 2024, 9:53AM
Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

D'Arcy Waldegrave: World Rugby's recommendations are just word soup

D'Arcy Waldegrave,
Publish Date
Sat, 2 Mar 2024, 9:53AM

Here’s the problem World Rugby faces, written out for all to see. Bear with me.   

The latest World Rugby Shape of the Game forum in London has put forward five recommendations for 2024 – speed and flow, language and perception, the women’s game, player welfare and well-being, and disciplinary process review.  

All with good intent I’m sure, as you’d hope, as the game is in dire straits, but like most things coming out of World Rugby, these recommendations are misdirected in some cases, so obvious that it’s alarming to think that only now they have been raised and badly communicated.   

The failings of the game, as obvious as they are to the fan, have been overlooked, avoided or minimalised.   

Exhibit A.  

The second recommendation is as follows.   

“Language and presentation of the game: A renewed passion and urgency to focus on building rugby’s attention share via a fan-focused view of how the game is marketed, a consistent approach to the presentation of the sport across all media environments, and a focus on the moments in the game that really engage fans.” 

No, I don’t understand it either. I asked Sir Steve Hansen last night on Sportstalk what it meant. His reply? “It means someone with a marketing degree in an office has written it”.  

Exhibit B  

The third recommendation is.  

“Women’s game: A dedicated focus on the women’s game and adapting laws, recognising the unique characteristics, strengths and opportunities that exist to attract a new audience.” 

It took a forum to determine this? Surely that is blindingly obvious and should already be well in motion. 

It’s all word soup. The recommendations are built around the buzzwords of the day. They are presented to show intent, to tell the shareholders that World Rugby understand the issues the game is mired in, but really, it’s just an exercise in written floral arrangements.   

Bill Beaumont, WR Chair spewed out more meaningless platitudes before Alan Gilpin, World Rugby Chief executive added this.   

“Rugby is in an attention economy. The attractiveness of the product in all its forms, combined with the excitement of the event experience, the content we create and stories we tell, is central to the sport’s growth as a whole. We will not look at actions or law tweaks in isolation, rather consider the changes we should make to definitively move the needle to make the game more relevant, attract new fans and deepen engagement with existing fans, and simplify the sport to make it more accessible.”  

Ok, guys, I’ll do your job for you.   

Exhibit 3. D'Arcy's recommendation.  

The laws are confusing. Once we sort that mess out, we’ll address the rest.  

Simple. You’re welcome 

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