Rugby league should be an Olympic sport
220 Have your say
Jarryd Hayne is cornered by two referees. (AAP Image/Action Photographics,Colin Whelan)
The time has come. Ever since I’ve been watching rugby league, efforts have been made to broaden the game’s international horizons.
Events like the World Cup, the World Sevens and Super League’s superb World Club Challenge (featuring global juggernauts like Paris St Germain) have provided the fans with a truly international flavour.
In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of international powerhouses like Lebanon, the USA ‘Tomahawks’ (an appropriate name given the team was practically flooded with Native American players) and Russia.
This all points to the Greatest Game of All now being ready to compete in the Greatest Games Of All, the Olympics.
I can see it now, through misty eyes: Papua New Guinea finally winning its first Olympic medal by upsetting Wales for the Bronze.
Australia would be placed in the toughest Pool, having to confront the ‘Rhinos’ from South Africa (there are actually more rhinoscerai in South Africa than league players, but let’s not get bogged down in the details), Scotland and Japan.
The Japanese team would benefit from rules based on heredity: in this case any Australian player who has ever driven a Honda qualifies to play for the Rising Suns (I just invented that team name).
England would be thrown in with the USA, of course. Those two countries can finally settle that whole rebel league issue that came up a little while back, when the teams from the US colonies wanted to form their own breakaway competition in the late 1700s. Should be plenty of biff and the odd tackle made.
Then we have the Kiwis, of course. By this time, thanks to Origin’s wonderful eligibility rules, they’ll have been reduced to giving the captaincy to Ben Roberts and using full-blown Australian players overlooked by their national team, like James Tamou and Feleti Mateo.
Good luck teaching those yobbos the haka. They’ll be in another competitive group, featuring Moldova, Italy and the resurgent Frenchmen.
Finally, it’ll be time to introduce some new teams to continue league’s viral spread of influence across the world.
I like the look of the Kenyans. Plenty of durability over 80 minutes, which means no chance their big men (the ones standing over six feet weighing more than 80 kilos) will be carved up late in the game.
I think a few of the Romanian gymnasts could be aggressive dummy halves and scheming halfbacks. Their square jawlines, hairy chests and massive arms will put the fear of god into the opposition.
I suppose we could also take a look at some of that nation’s male gymnasts as well.
Finally, I think the time has come for China to step up. Super League was supposed to open up new markets but that never quite took off, which was a tragedy. Can you imagine Yao Ming, playing for the Beijing Crushers (South Queensland would have relocated) being tackled head high by Allan Langer? Spectacular.
That country is a vast, untapped resource and it’s time we sent some emissaries to get it going over there. I vote for Michael Ennis, Wade Graham and Steve Matai. They are kind, gentle souls who know how to get along with people.
It’s time for soccer to politely step out of the way. League, finally, is about to become the new World Game. Bless you John Ribot.