Giving France the 2023 World Cup hosting rights won't save international rugby.

The man in charge of the French bid, Claude Atcher, who said it would, should be congratulated for coming up with such an innovative strategy of trying to scare World Rugby council members into voting for France and then told to quickly shut his gob before any more nonsense falls out of it.

His argument, as best as it can be followed, seems to be suggesting that if France win the hosting rights, it will give them increased ability to enforce changes within the professional club competition.

By that he means it will enable the national body to win political concessions to restrict the number of foreign players in the Top 14 and by doing so, the likes of Australia and South Africa will be able to more easily keep their best players, become better test teams and have more money as a result.


It kind of makes sense, but why don't the French just sort out their Top 14 regardless of whether they win the World Cup hosting rights? What difference will hosting the World Cup make in the battle to persuade French clubs to recruit fewer foreign stars?

It's a great headline but nothing else and no one should be fooled. It's emotive scaremongering.

There's no doubt that all national unions would like to see French clubs have greater restrictions on foreign recruitment. They would also like to see reality bite in regards to player payment and for the market to cool.

That would be helpful, take some pressure off what they have to pay players to keep them at home.

But to suggest that international rugby will collapse in 10 years if this issue is not addressed is laughably outrageous.

If there is, as Atcher suggests, a lack of genuine global competition in the test arena it is not attributable to what is happening in France.

The bigger challenge to the game is coaching. The number one reason the Wallabies have struggled in recent years is the lack of quality coaching in Super Rugby.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika knows what he's doing, but he's been hindered by the lack of basics being instilled in the players before he gets his hands on them.

England and Ireland are also testament to the value of coaching.

The England team that jumped to number two in the world last year was largely made up of the same playing personnel that bombed out of the 2015 World Cup.

The difference - the arrival of the canny Eddie Jones as coach. Ireland have suddenly become a consistently dangerous team since 2013.


Maybe because Joe Schmidt took charge of them that year.

Coaching is the real driver of sustained performance in international rugby not player movement.

And secondly, the contention that international rugby is dying as Atcher says it is, needs to be challenged.

The All Blacks' 57-0 win against South Africa was an anomaly and it wouldn't be a surprise at all if the Boks bounce back and beat New Zealand in Cape Town.

The Wallabies were three minutes away from beating the All Blacks in Dunedin after conceding 54 points to them in 50 minutes in the previous game.

Their next Bledisloe Cup encounter in Brisbane next month will almost certainly go to the wire.

There isn't a massive gulf between these teams.

It is just that the nature of rugby has changed - teams can score tries quickly and games can blow out to not necessarily reflect the respective abilities of the two teams involved.

Such lopsided games are more prone to happen if the All Blacks are involved as if they click on the night and it coincides with their opponent being well off, the result can be extraordinary due to New Zealand's skill level and attacking prowess.

Then there is England - more than capable of beating the All Blacks, as are Ireland and watch how close France, Scotland and Wales get this November.

Test football is not dying at all and even if it were, taking a World Cup to France wouldn't save it.