Rugby Union

Rugby Union
Australia head coach Michael Cheika during a training session. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty

Allan Massie: Rugby Championship will be vital source of World Cup learning for the north

Most of us would, I hope, hate the thought of the Six Nations being regarded as preparation for a World Cup rather than as the great tournament it is, but the Southern Hemisphere’s Rugby Championship has neither the history nor the allure of the Six Nations, and there’s no doubt that all four countries – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina – see the truncated Championship which kicks off today as, principally, an opportunity for preparation and experiment. There’s more reason to regard it as such because it is of course that much nearer to the World Cup than the Six Nations was.

Alex Dunbar is joining Brive in the French Top 14. Picture: Bruce White/SNS

Allan Massie: Alex Dunbar’s Brive encounter is a flight of French fancy

It is the time of year when most of the news is about things off the field. Yesterday one learned that John Jeffrey has just been appointed chairman of the Six Nations Committee,on which he has served for a number of years, as indeed on World Rugby and the SRU itself also. JJ has come a long way into the ranks of the Great and Good since, along with his mate Finlay Calder, he was described as a “scavenger” by England’s coach, Geoff Cooke. A long way also from that night when he and England’s mighty No 8 Dean Richards indulged in some passing practice up and down North Bridge with the Calcutta Cup instead of a rugby ball. I don’t really know what the remit and powers of the chair of the Six Nations Committee may be, but I trust that JJ will greet proposals for change with a healthy Borders scepticism, offering our characteristic defence of the status quo: “it’s aye been”.

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