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Ireland rugby legend Keith Wood joined presenter Ger Gilroy, former England international Stuart Barnes and Giles Morgan, the former Head of Sponsorship for HSBC, for the first episode of 'Keith Wood's State of the Union', our new show examining where the global game is going. 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused something of an existential crisis in rugby and former Munster man Wood has been assessing the tournament that was known as the Celtic League.

"For me, the PRO 14, I don't like it as a competition. I've never quite understood (I do understand because of Italy being in the Six Nations) the need to put Italian sides, with no history, no sense of a rivalry into the midst of a Celtic competition. And the South African teams for me I think are an absolute waste of time. In terms of player welfare, deciding in the middle of your season, especially for international players, to suddenly have to pop down and play a game at the Highveld, for me it isn't particularly right."

Wood believes rivalry between clubs is the key to a successful tournament, and a repurposed League closer to home would be more effective.

"I've always been a fan to try and go on that sense of rivalry. For me, I am still looking for change. I would love to have a British and Irish League, because I think the sense of rivalry that we see in the Six Nations can be mirrored at a club game with Leicester and Leinster or Munster. You know the crowds that are going to turn up to those sort of things. The Heineken Cup, what it did show over the years is that there is a huge appetite for that battle and that contest and those inbuilt rivalries that happen over the year.

"There has to be something that fits a little bit better, especially on the back of COVID as to whether there is going to be a huge amount of travel or not, whether with the closer proximity, we can make that into something that unifies it a little bit more."

You can watch the full first episode of 'Keith Wood's State of the Union' and the whole chat here:

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