Plans for annual world title


Australian rugby officials have drafted a proposal for an annual world title showdown between the Southern and Northern Hemisphere champions.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive John O'Neill said yesterday that he had prepared a paper for the International Rugby Board, calling for an end-of-year clash between the Tri-Nations and Six-Nations winners.

O'Neill said that the match would be played in October at the end of the Southern Hemisphere season. He said that the plan would be tabled at the IRB's next meeting in Dublin later this month.

"At the moment it's just a suggestion. Obviously there would have to be a complete rethink on the season structure for this to go ahead," O'Neill said.

O'Neill also revealed that Australia wants to play the 2003 World Cup final under lights for the first time. The ARU boss also said that Australia wanted to stage matches at least five days a week to avoid a repeat of the cluttered programme used at the 1999 tournament.

Under the proposal, which he presented to World Cup officials at a meeting in Singapore last week, the tournament would be split into four pools of five teams.

Australia and New Zealand would each host two pools as well as two quarter-finals with the semi-finals and final in Australia. The tournament would kick off on October 3rd with the final at Sydney's Olympic stadium on November 8th.