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World Rugby, trying to recover prestige after the recent Rugby World Cup 2023 hosting debacle, suffered another stinging cut into its authority when it reversed a previous decision to disallow player wristband messages. The governing body had issued a ruling that prohibited any writing - personal, political, societal, etc. - on player wrist tape.
The announcement aligned World Rugby with the International Olympic Committee's similar, existing edict on any writing or messages appearing on uniforms or other player placements. Further, World Rugby would fine $1,000 those playerts who broke the rules.
World Rugby, after issuing the decree, received negative pushback. Most prominently, Ron Nichol of the New Zealand Rugby Player's Association complained bitterly, calling the decision ridiculous, and objecting also to the lack of prior consultation.
Players also chimed in that the decision denied reference to friends and family. Niall Williams of the Black Ferns writes her daughter's name on the tape. Canadian Jen Kish puts "RUCK CANCER."
World Rugby flipped and rescinded the controversial ruling. And therein lies the larger problem, the organization’s second failure in less than month to impart its will over the membership. More importantly than the wrist tape incident was the second vote to award the 2023 RWC to France, and not follow the first recommendation for selecting South Africa.
What future controversies lie ahead?