The Six Nations Tournament is Dead in the Water by Derek Wyatt
The Rugby World Cup 2015 seems a long time ago. In February - at least in the northern hemisphere -it gives way to another tournament which frankly has had its day.
Put your hands together for the Six Nations tournament where none of its teams qualified for the semi finals of the said World Cup. Shock horror, two - England and Italy -failed to make it out of the group stage.
The Six Nations is hermetically sealed. Whatever the results, however bad the quality of play, no matter the noise from the media, the tournament is a busted flush.
The only rugby of note is being played by Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. True, there are fits and starts by some of the northern hemisphere sides France on a good day plus Ireland and Wales - but all lack enough quality players and a consistency of play. As for England the jury has been out since2007.
The Six Nations tournament should welcome into the mix Romania, Russia, Spain and Georgia. It should be in two divisions of five teams with the top two going forward to a semi and then a final.
Determining the two leagues - of both men and women's -would be a matter of luck with names being draw from a hat
So an England team say would play four matches in the group stages over three consecutive weeks in May. They would then possibly play a semi final and final -so a maximum of six in all. If they did not qualify the design of the plate competitions would still give them six games in all which is one more than they currently play in the Six Nations.
So do draw up your armchair next month and watch the old "enemies" fight the good fight over the Six Nations cup -now on ITV and BBC. But consider how much more competitive it would be if it was opened up to four newcomers.
In the meantime whilst we ponder its future the 2016 Six Nations looks like it will be the most open ever. All six countries are rebuilding whilst some like England have a new coach (Eddie Jones) and new captain (Dylan Hartley). England have a difficult opening game against Scotland at Murrayfield (where I was capped 40 years ago!) and should they lose they lose the Calcutta Cup, the Triple Crown and a Grand Slam! So not much to play for then.