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You're such a little tinker, Mr Moffett.

Byline: By James Corrisgan Wales on Sunday

There are bad ideas and there are bad ideas. And then there are rugby officials' ideas.

As stupidity goes, the plan to introduce bonus points into the Six Nations does not take the biscuit so much as an entire McVities factory.

It is wrong, wrong, wrong and part of that grotesque modern trend for bureaucrats to meddle with things simply because they cannot resist meddling with things.

And guess what? Yep, Wales is leading the way in this muddled, meddling thinking. Well, as a nation that is rapidly turning into the 'land of the bureaucrat', you wouldn't expect anything else now, would you?

You might also justifiably expect that the Welsh Rugby Union had enough on their plate to contend with at the moment, without having to open a whole new can of worms to pour on.

Finances are still on the Trotter side of solvency, the regions are not yet the all-singing, all-dancing success we were promised they would be and the French and English agents that are now camped on our borders in preparation to whisk our star players away should be enough to occupy anybody.

But not the WRU and not David Moffett. Our esteemed chief executive is apparently more worried with overhauling a tournament that so obviously does not need overhauling. In this of all weeks, surely we should be thinking about leaving the international structure be.

But as an Aussie who has been immersed in rugby union for all of three years, Moffett is not happy with a tournament that has been running quite happily, thank you very much, for nigh on a century.

'The Six Nations is a little out of step as the only major tournament which doesn't have a bonus points system,' Moffett said as the ghastly plans to introduce just that came to light. 'I am very much in favour of it, as are most people.'

Er, I'm not, nor I doubt are the millions of fans who have given over the majority of these two last weekends to pay homage to a sporting institution that remains among the very best in the world. Moffett and his merry meddlers look at the Tri-Nations and see that they have a bonus system and thinks that must be the way forward. But don't they realise that the Tri-Nations was initially set up as a desperate attempt by the southern hemisphere to emulate the Six Nations?

And that they would still give whatever eye teeth haven't yet been knocked out in those excuses they call rucks to have even a fraction of the success that the Six Nations uniquely enjoys?

But no, Moffett assures us: 'It would ensure interest is maintained throughout the entire competition by enabling every team to go for a bonus point which could make all the difference.'

Now, can anyone tell me what possible interest it would 'maintain'? Interest is maintained between the competing six nations purely on the grounds of tradition and age-old rivalries, not some contrived bonus points system. It's like splashing a bit of Dulux on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and saying it needed brightening up a bit. Yes, in sporting terms it really would be that sacrilegious.

Take the example of a tournament a few years ago when France lifted the Six Nations trophy by dint of beating all the other countries put in front of them. Worthy winners, I think you might agree? But in the new system, England would have been crowned champions simply because they managed to rack up enough tries against the Italys, Scotlands and yes, Waleses of this world to ensure a sweet chariot-full of bonus points.

Now, where would be the fairness in that? You would have a scandalous scenario where the Grand Slam winners would be deemed as losers.

Not that it would mean that much - except to the sponsors and blazer brigade - because if you asked most rugby fans, the real achievement would be completing the mythical Slam and not hoisting aloft some shiny Cup that has only been around for a matter of years anyway.

And if you look through the record books you would see that there has been very few games where the games have not, in fact, mattered.

Through a quite glorious history the Six Nations has grown layers of achievement that mean there is almost always something to play for. The Triple Crown, the Wooden Spoon, the Calcutta Cup... all of these invariably ensure that the venerable competition remains a nail-biter right up until the final weekend.

And even if Moffett's 'level of interest' doesn't happen to be 'maintained' by one of these 'awards' being up for grabs then there is always the heart-clutching incentive of playing for one's country that 'can maintain the level of interest' in both players and fans.

That's why that in the unlikely event the final game between Wales and Ireland in this Six Nations turns out to be a 'dead rubber' there would still be 74,000 passionate souls screaming their lungs out in the Millennium Stadium and 20,000 outside just wishing they were in there with them.

Do you think they would be any more excited if there were bonus points on the menu, as well?

Of course they wouldn't, and the danger is that such pointless tinkering could very well cheapen a competition that continues to be rich in all that is traditionally wonderful in British sport.

It wouldn't be the first time the meddlers have messed up everything. The racing authorities have already completely ruined the mystique of the Derby by changing all that is just and holy and moving it to a Saturday and only this week the Football Association were thankfully convinced to abort their quite ridiculous proposals to move the FA Cup final to a Wednesday.

Fortunately the magic of the Six Nations has been strong enough to withstand the chaos that the ever-changing kick-off times has wrought, but that should not convince the powers-that-be that the rugby fan's undying faith should be taken for granted.

They should leave well alone and follow the 'if-it-ain't-broke' school of thinking. I know it's hard to leave anything alone, Mr Moffett, but I assure you there's plenty in our domestic game that does need fixing.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 13, 2005
Words:1051
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