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  Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
All applaud the RFU
In his exclusive column, England and Newcastle fly-half Jonny Wilkinson backs the Rugby Football Union's ambitious plans to revolutionise the Rugby World Cup.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron announced the plans
RFU chief executive Francis Baron announced the plans
England's World Cup ambitions remain unfulfilled.

So, it was with both excitement and anticipation that I listened to the Rugby Football Union's ambitious plans to host the 2007 World Cup on Monday.

England's lack of success on the world's biggest rugby stage is a frustration. In 1991 we lost to Australia in the final at Twickenham due, in no small part, to our own lack of confidence.

In 1999 we were knocked out, again at home, against a tough South Africa side and the boot of Jannie de Beer.

On both occasions we should have emerged victorious.

Playing at home counts for so much in tournaments like these and England are guilty of not taking advantage of tremendous home support.

We don't intend to make the same mistake a third time.

But there is another reason for supporting the RFU's bid.

The preferred proposal of a two-tier competition combining a new Rugby Nations World Cup and a 'Super Eight' system is one of the most ambitious plans put forward within the sport since the tournament was first introduced.


Launch new window : World Cup revamp
Rival World Cup bids explained

Should the bid be accepted it would provide the boost that rugby union needs.

If the sport is ever going to rival football then we must continue to make giant strides forward - and the RFU's plan should be applauded in all directions.

It is a brave bid and I have no doubt that such a tournament would increase the interest, intensity and standard of competition.

And it would also prevent the kind of mismatches that do little for either of the sides involved.

England must take advantage of home support if the World Cup returns
England must take advantage of home support if the World Cup returns
The Rugby Nations World Cup would involve countries of a similar standard and would help - not hinder - the development of the smaller rugby nations.

The 'Super Eight' system, meanwhile, would provide more tantalising matches between the world's best.

The current set-up makes it possible for a country to win the World Cup, having faced just three of the world's top five teams.

The new system, however, would ensure that the best team has a far more difficult time of it. And that can only be good, both for the sport and the fans.

A little closer to home, I'd like to say a few words in praise of our performance against Grenobles.

We're through to the next round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup, but we could have made more of our chances on the weekend.

Michael Stephenson scored a superb hat-trick. He's a very talented played and I'd like to see the ball in his hand a little more.

It's now up to us to make that happen and it's up to us to take our European form back into the Zurich Premiership.

It's a tricky balance, but we we can't afford to walk out against Sale content, because Jim Mallinder's side will make it their business to punish us.

Sunday is a big day for the Falcons and we want to prove to ourselves and our fans that we have what it takes.

Let's hope I'm writing next week's column with a smile on my face.

 VOTE RESULTS
Should the RWC be split into two competitions?

Yes
 54.05% 

No
 45.95% 

8209 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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08 Oct 02 | Jonny Wilkinson
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