The IRB’s President Syd Millar has stated that he wants to reduce the number of teams competing in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (to be held in NZ) from the current 20 to 16 teams. This would mean that there would be just four open slots for which the lesser teams can vie. The large scale massacres that occurred in the pools have clearly prompted this decision. I suspect this is probably a wise decision in order to keep the pool play more respectable and competitive. Except for two upsets (Fiji v Wales and Argentina v France) in the 40 games played in the pool phase, the results (if not the scores) seemed far too predictable. With just 16 teams, the interest and intensity in the ‘pool’ phase will surely be dramatically increased. In any event, as we now know, the real excitement happens in the knockout phase — which per the new proposal would be reduced to four teams. The proposal also features the creation of Minnows’ tournament (16 teams) being played simultaneously.

Report from down under NZ YahooXtra [defunct]
BBC commentary

Blogs on the topic:
Long and interesting post in favor from Red Terror (plus a long comment against)
Fiji Rugby Blog: Fiji Chairman speaking out on Millar’s plans
Cage of Monkeys in favor of reducing to 16, with good insights
A meaty post from on the state of affairs for the downed ‘mighty’ minnows in 2007 (plus another stinging article on the state of rugby today
Sports Industry report [defunct]
And finally, from 22dropout [defunct], the fact that school terms will be altered in NZ to accommodate viewing of the 2011 final. Got to love that.

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