The trust received courtesy of their overlords of the oval world after 20 years of raids no longer seems to offer guarantees, the Six Nations restarts and immediately Italy ends up behind the blackboard, reprimanded by those who have always considered themselves teachers with the right to give lessons to undisciplined students.
But after the blue drama staged at the Olimpico on the day of the opening of the dances, little more than a Roman walk for the French (50-10, 7 goals achieved) to pack Italy’s consecutive defeat number 28 inside the Tournament , the songs of protest have started to vibrate again. The first arrow was shot from the microphones of the BBC by an illustrious archer, Sam Warburton, former captain of Wales, forced to retire early from too many concussions accused in his career, Officer of the Order of the British Empire for sporting merits: “The measure is full – he cut short – just enough to look for other solutions. For too many years Italy has not been competitive anymore and I personally agree to create a system of promotions and relegations that can reward those who really deserve to play the Six Nations. Georgia won the second tier tournament, is in fact the European champion of the others. We can no longer put a glass roof over these teams, otherwise we would mortify their desire for growth, wanting at all costs to cling to the state of affairs. And today with an Italy that hasn’t won for 5 years and that hasn’t shown significant progress, it would be deleterious for the desire for expansion which, at least in words, claim to be chasing after the leaders of World Rugby ».
The mechanism proposed by Warburton provides for a double summer match every year between the last of the Six Nations and the first of the European reserve tournament: “It would be interesting; I’d have fun watching it in front of the TV ». Martin Johnson, world champion in 2003 with England, added to the dose: «It was all too simple for France. I was here watching the game and after a while I felt embarrassed. We have always beaten Italy, it is true, but every time we have had to earn our bread. You had to go to Rome and beat them, they created a lot of headaches, they were rude, physically tough, aggressive in defense. They handled lots of ball possessions and enjoyed keeping you away from the source of the game. Now, however, playing in Rome seems to me to have become too easy for everyone ». So far a river of words that flows with exhausting punctuality at the dawn of each new tournament. For them it has always been a “Five Nations + 1” and Italy only at times tried to question the thesis.
The facts, however, are different and for the moment they do not question the Italian participation in the Tournament. Six Nations ltd. is a private company with 6 equal partners e at least until 2024 its organizational structure does not foresee any changes. The pandemic has only partially sent the system into crisis, which is a perfect financial mechanism, a money machine that in the last year has accounted for losses (lost collections and disappearance of the related industries) for half a billion euros. But the Tournament already has its recovery fund in hand, insured by the purchase of 14.5% of the commercial rights by the CVC fund: 409 million euros over 5 years to be divided among the participants in the banquet, with Italy having a treasury of 40 million euros in cash.
The same CVC mechanism has implemented it with the English Premiership (238 million euros, 27% of the rights) and with the Pro 14 (138 million euros): from this last operation in the coffers of Italian rugby will end up another 18 million euros. And then it will be difficult to convince the shareholders of the private company, in the name of healthy sporting competition, to review the technical judgments, also because going back to the old century is impossible, with 15 games that are commercially incomparable to the old 10 on television. To increase the appeal (and Georgia cannot do it …) there are those who loudly propose the landing on the coasts of Europe of the world champion South Africa. But the Springboks have just reconfirmed their participation in the Rugby Championship (with All Blacks, Australia and Argentina), even if an oval market of unknown potential would open up with them. At that point, involving the superpowers of the upside-down hemisphere, a radical revolution in international calendars would be needed. And the old rugby of the big players should forget his old, dated, attachment to his own traditions.
February 9, 2021 (change February 9, 2021 | 18:52)
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