Jonathan Davies: The global season: a little shuffle and we will all be winners

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The Independent Online

After the exciting ration of northern v southern hemispheres' internationals we have just experienced I am not surprised that people are calling for rugby to move to regular global tournaments. But it's not a move I would welcome.

After the exciting ration of northern v southern hemispheres' internationals we have just experienced I am not surprised that people are calling for rugby to move to regular global tournaments. But it's not a move I would welcome.

The game is doing so brilliantly that I would be worried that its appeal would be damaged if we tried to tamper with its organisation worldwide and flood it with internationals.

What, for instance, would happen to the Six Nations if England and France turned their sights towards an annual competition with the southern big guns? There have been times when England and France looked far too strong for the rest of us but I shouldn't think they'd be saying that now.

I can hardly recall a more eagerly awaited Six Nations than the one due to start in a couple of months. It is the best tournament in the world and the southerners are jealous of its strength, traditions and pulling power. What with that and the Heineken Cup we have a season that puts the Tri-Nations and the Super 12 in the shade. Why risk changing it?

Besides, we already have a global tournament. It's called the World Cup and it is magical and compelling because it is played only once every four years.

International rugby like we have had over the past few weeks is great because it is rare and is not played for points, although you can hardly call them friendlies.

Look what has happened to other sports who try to cash in on big events by flooding the TV screens with them - snooker and football are two glaring examples. Saturation is sport's biggest enemy and rugby must steer clear of the temptation. I realise that international rugby is important for revenue but devaluing the product can never be good marketing sense.

I am not saying that the world's rugby seasons couldn't do with a little restructuring. We send teams down there in our summer when our boys should be resting and they send their teams over in the same state. It would be much better if we went there straight after the end of our season and they come here immediately their season finishes. In that way the players wouldn't have chance to go off the boil and when the international fixtures are over they would then have a complete break. That's all it needs, though; a little tinkering not a wholesale change.

But there's no doubt that the standard of rugby in the two hemispheres has become much closer. It was only a few years ago that they seemed light years ahead. The main reason is that they were more professional than we were to start with. In the amateur days they may not have been paid but they were more professional in their attitude, their training methods, their commercial sense and their application. Even after professionalism, we were slow to cotton on. Well, we've cottoned on now and we are capable of taking them on.

If there's one area where a little globalism would be welcome it is the complex world of referees. A bit of regular interchanging between the hemispheres might clear up some varying interpretations of the rules.

I was talking to Sean Fitzpatrick the other day and he said that the southern hemisphere ought to go back to rucking because that is the area of most confusion. Down there the referees don't ref the tackle area because teams don't compete any more. The attacking side tend to take the ball on again - that's why the number of phases in their games is so high. After a tackle over here, the ball is heavily contested and the ruck is one of the most crucial parts of our game. The South African flanker Schalk Burger has been continually penalised for offences at the ruck. Most of the time he was probably confused. We have to get the legality at the tackle area standardised or we'll be arguing for ever.

The other problem is crossing. Wales swear that Joe Rokocoko's first try for New Zealand against them came after Casey Laulala had obstructed Sonny Parker. Yet they had been penalised for blocking against South Africa and it led to Percy Montgomery's kicking the winning points.

There's much to be gained by establising consistent refereeing in both hemispheres but there's nothing to be gained by having any more regular contact between us. It works excellently as it is.

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