With Christmas upon us, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask - loudly - for some Christmas gifts; most of which have the 2012 rugby season in mind.
So, after a busy year which saw the Webb Ellis trophy finally find its way back to New Zealand - after some 24 years away - we already have our eye on next year.
And, with that in mind, we'd like to request the following gifts, please:
(1) Bring back tours! It's a simple request, right? At least we think it is. Make the Rugby Championships every second year and every other alternate year the four SANZAR nations can host one of the Home Nations on a full tour - including midweek matches. (Another option: how about trying to create a global season?)
(2) With all the debate about north v south and which 'league' is better, how about - finally - an official play-off match between the Heineken Cup and Super Rugby champions? (Perhaps the curtain-raiser could be between the Varsity Cup champions - from South Africa - and one of Oxford or Cambridge - the winner of their annual Varsity Match?)
(3) The truth about that night in Queenstown... Mike Tindall seems to have misled a few people about that night during the World Cup, but, yet, nobody knows the actual truth. Who was that mysterious blonde? Where has that CCTV footage disappeared to?
(4) Whilst we're on the topic of England, who did leak those 'confidential' post-World Cup RFU reviews? And why?
(5) A Springbok coach. Remind us, again, why we have to wait until January 27, 2012 for this announcement?
(6) Some finality over the format of the 2012 Currie Cup. Will it be just a Top Six next year? Which teams will be competing? What about promotion/relegation? (Wait, don't we have to wait another month for this?!)
(7) There is no doubt that one or two of the laws of rugby union could do with a slight tinker. How about starting with the breakdown? How can one law - or the different interpretation thereof - have such a big affect on the game of rugby union?
(8) 23-man squads across the board. 23-man squads - which, basically, means having an additional prop on the bench - are currently being utilised at club level in England, France, Italy, Scotland, Wales and Ireland... and, also, in South Africa's Varsity Cup tournament. How about implementing it at Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Test level?
(9) No matter what happens on the field, let's not forget what makes rugby union so unique from other sports... yes, that's right - this is a game which has always been played with full respect - for one's opponents and the referee. Let's ensure we don't ever forget that - no matter how important the match at hand might seem.
(10) If you're on the lookout for some last-minute gifts - two rugby books stand out from 2011; 'The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson' and 'Victor: My Journey'. Both are entirely different reads. Both are excellent. Any aspiring rugby player out there would do well to read both.
* Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all our readers - thanks for your support in 2011!
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