Former Springbok coach Jake White says the 2019 World Cup is shaping up to be the most competitive tournament yet.
In a column for AllOutRugby, White praised World Rugby’s commitments to make the World Cup as competitive as possible.
‘It’s phenomenal that the ninth Rugby World Cup, hosted for the first time in an Asian country, is lining up to be the most competitive.
‘You have to appreciate how much goes into keeping the sport competitive, because World Rugby wants to create a game where multiple teams have a shot at winning on the biggest stage. We don’t want a game where 100 teams play, but only three can lift the trophy, and five months from the 2019 Rugby World Cup you have to say it’s job well done.
‘That’s something to be proud of, and if you did an audit on the game based on the state of the showpiece event, you’d have to say rugby is in a great place. People say the game is dying, and World Rugby is an easy target for those who like to find fault, but that’s because a lot of the work done behind the scenes goes unseen.
‘In the buildup to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, World Rugby paid for me to join the Tongan management team as the replacement for a coach who needed a knee op and couldn’t travel. And though World Rugby is often criticised for not doing enough to help Tier 2 and 3 nations, they spend in the region of £25m (R460m) per annum on grants.
‘When you work out how much funding they invest in all the rugby-playing nations, it’s incredible. Roughly R90m goes to helping the Pacific Island nations of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji every year. One mother body is bankrolling the development of rugby globally, and often they’re doing that in countries where the game faces serious commercial challenges because it’s not the number one sport.’