Harlequins’ Danny Care says World 12s proposals can make rugby more exciting
The Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care has welcomed this week’s proposal for a World 12s tournament, saying the sport must move forward and that most of modern Test rugby leaves him cold.
The inaugural World 12s is planned for next August, with organisers pointing to the early success of the Hundred in cricket as evidence rugby could benefit from a similar progression. Proposals for the new competition include an IPL-style player auction and equal prize money for men and women.
At the Premiership launch as champions Harlequins approach the new campaign, Care said: “I do see the sport needing change. You can’t just sit still. If you watch the majority of international Test matches at the moment, if New Zealand and maybe France aren’t playing, then it doesn’t really excite me – I tried to get my son to watch that Lions tour and he was like: ‘What is this?’”
Harlequins roared to last season’s Premiership title playing an expansive style and Care believes the new 12s competition may encourage international coaches to play a more open game and also help to strengthen national unions.
“I like to think our club tries to play in a way that might inspire kids,” he said. “I know international rugby’s very different to Premiership rugby, but people say: ‘You can’t play like that in international rugby.’ Well, why not? Why can’t you? You can if your coaches let you play like that.
“Maybe this 12s thing is going to be a great way for coaches to have a look at that. It’s certainly something I’d want to watch and maybe get involved in.
“You want the best players playing in your country. South Africans leave South Africa to play over here or in France or in Japan to get more money. But if you could create a bit more money that players felt like they didn’t need to leave … I think each union would be stronger.”
Whether the World 12s would have such an impact is debatable, as the richest domestic leagues would still expect to attract many top players. World Rugby has questioned the viability of any new competition but there is clearly an appetite among players to increase their earning potential.
Care said: “We’re very lucky to do what we do, but it’s not like cricket, it certainly isn’t like football, so if we can bring more money to the sport and attract more people to want to play the sport, it can only be a good thing.”
Harlequins travel to Newcastle – and a potential meeting with their former full-back Mike Brown – to begin their title defence on 19 September. Care said defensive improvement is a priority under their new coach, Tabai Matson. “We need to concede less. There are a lot of things to improve on, defence is the main one, but we’re going to stay true to what we believe.”