The sport marks its 20th anniversary of turning professional. But how far has it really progressed?
A string of embarrassing ‘anomalies’ in picking the man of the match in Rugby World Cup pool games has led organisers to consider overhauling the selection process for the knockout stages, according to a media report.
Under the existing system, three players are short-listed by the tournament’s world feed radio early in the second half before fans vote for their choice on social media, a process tournament director Alan Gilpin admits has resulted in a number of ‘challenges’.
England lock Joe Launchbury was named man of the match for his performance in the 33-13 defeat by Australia that knocked the hosts out of the tournament, despite Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley scoring two fine tries in the game.
Launchbury admitted he was unhappy to get the award.
“It was extremely strange to be named man of the match. It was embarrassing and it definitely won’t go on the mantelpiece at home,” Launchbury said.
“It was a strange award that could have gone to a whole host of guys on their team.
“Individually parts of my game went quite well, but the overriding emotions were hurt and frustration.”
“There is a rethink happening because there have been a few challenges,” British daily Telegraph quoted Gilpin as saying.
“Any man-of-the-match scenario where you have a public vote and that public vote takes place at a particular point in the game leads to some anomalies.”
Equally embarrassing for the organisers was the award going to Uruguay’s Agustin Ormaechea, who scored a try against Fiji but was then sent off after receiving the first red card of the tournament.
“We saw that with the Uruguay player who received a red card shortly after being named man of the match and of course the Launchbury situation,” Gilpin added.
“We’re looking at that now before the knockout stage and the plan is for the change to be made. We’re adjusting the timing and the way the voting takes place.”