James Corrigan: No mismatches and knockouts to come. Rugby World Cup is too short if anything

 

Same old story. Plucky little Wales. How brave the boys were in defeat. They did everything but win. Yes, in the land of my blathers last night the soliloquies of consolation were long and winded.

Francois Pienaar called it perfectly in the studio. He had just heard his fellow analyst Gareth "Alfie" Thomas taking all the positives out of his country's one-point loss to South Africa and he was aghast. "They didn't have the belief they could win," said the World Cup-winning captain. "And until they do believe, they won't win."

Pienaar said it as if believing was the easiest thing in the world, and to a mighty Springbok it probably is as straightforward as emptying bowels. But this inferiority complex has been forged in Wales over many thousands of years and to tell a Welsh person, and particularly a Welsh rugby fan, "you only have to believe" is akin to informing an ape "you only have to stop eating bananas". Sorry, Frans, it's in our nature – it's even in our hymns.

Now for Samoa on Saturday and the problem is that, while we didn't truly believe we could beat the world champions, we truly do believe we can lose to the tiny Pacific Island country.

Infuriating? Undoubtedly. Enthralling? That does not begin to describe it. But then Wales' continuing battle to wipe their DNA of all its insecurity is destined to be just one more gripping chapter in a tournament already promising to be an epic. Believe it, the Rugby World Cup is set to come of age before our eyes.

Of course, you won't hear that from the depressingly ever-present, one-eyed contingent in Rugby League, who, for some reason, still fail to acknowledge it is possible to admire both codes. Fair enough, there is a section of union supporters who are similarly prejudiced. I say, let them bicker. It's rather like when you run into a husband and wife having a barney late at night – they're best left well alone. Otherwise they'll both turn on you.

But that doesn't mean all the naysayers should escape confrontation. Indeed, those out there declaring the Rugby World Cup to be too long must be challenged, Courtney Lawes-style. There is wrong, plain wrong and pig-ignorant. And this particular argument gains priority membership in all three.

The comparison with the Cricket World Cup is as flimsy as Phil Vickery's analysis (at last rugby has found its very own Denis Law). The Cricket World Cup took 43 days to complete 49 matches, while the rugby equivalent will take 45 days to complete 48 games. The content-to-time ratio is very similar. But there were only 14 teams in India and Sri Lanka; there are 20 in New Zealand. That tells its own story.

But so does the fact there were only two groups in the CWC. Those group stages were round robin but actually felt more like Round Penguin Colony. It took 32 days out of 43 days to reach the knockout stages. The extravaganza did feature a "group of death", but the cause of death was old age.

Yet all that is immaterial because what distinguishes rugby union and cricket is so obviously the natures of the sports. The point is the Cricket World Cup didn't need to take that long. Teams can play every other day; little recovery time is required. The rugby union players, of course, need a stretch of days to recover, ideally a week. And if you don't agree then a) you don't understand rugby union and b) you did not see the two Argentines carried off after colliding with Lawes.

Medical necessity means the RWC is largely confined to the weekends. Of the seven weekends, three will be the knockout stages. That is the perfect mix. But then it always has been. What ensures this RWC will not drag is that all of a sudden the group matches are competitive. The walkovers, while still in evidence, will blessedly be the rarity and not the normality.

That's because all those World Cups which definitely did feel too long gave the "smaller" nations the experience they needed to improve – and most importantly the impetus and motivation. As we see Japan frighten France, Romania scare the Scots and the Americans give Ireland a nudge it is apparent that the RWC is now benefiting from those tournaments when the action was chiefly limited to the quarter-finals onwards. This sense of competition will only heighten in future events. Exactly the same happened in football and, although rugby union does not possess either the widespread appeal or the ease of access of football, the comparison between those two World Cups is already more justified than between the RWC and the CWC.

Just think, four years ago the International Rugby Board came within one meeting of bowing to the critics and reducing the number of teams in the World Cup and hence the length of the event. That would have been shortsighted, self-detrimental, stupid. The sport has absolutely no chance of expanding around the world if it does not dangle carrots of success, hopes of glory, the incentive of the contest to the unconvinced.

So the Rugby World Cup is not too long. Indeed, for most of yesterday morning we Welsh were of the opinion that it could not last long enough. Bring on the Samoans. We were unlucky not to have toppled the world champions, you know.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?