How the rugby league world cup can build a lasting legacy

Mark Campbell Roar Rookie

By , Mark Campbell is a Roar Rookie


57 Have your say

    The 2017 Rugby League World Cup will leave $7 million in the coffers of the Rugby League International Federation.

    They also hope to have a rugby nines world cup in 2019 to increase the profile and profitability of the game – though I’m not sure the creation of a new nines tournament is the only result the game should want from this World Cup.

    What is needed is more internationals. Yes, I know I am only restating what many have already said before me; however, this idea is often expressed without a proposal.

    So, with my magic wand, here is how a new international rugby league competition would look.

    State of Origin matches would move to Monday nights. I don’t think the planned Sunday night will work. Why? It didn’t work early in the 2000s. Not enough is said about the banter that happens around the workplaces and schools on Origin eve and the day following. Moving it to a weekend weakens this connection with the fans.

    Having Origin on a Monday would form part of an international weekend, of which there would be three during the regular season.

    Games would be played between New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Cook Islands. If you wanted to extend this, you could also include other Asia-Pacific nations, such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, to name but two. The game is also played in Thailand and the Philippines, and if that makes too many countries, you could break the competition into groups.

    Although each country would play three games during the regular season, over a four-year period each team would play a total of 12 mid-season internationals, preferably on a home-and-away basis.

    (NRLPhotos/Jeff Crow)

    To being with games would be played in neutral venues in Australia or New Zealand. Hopefully over time the host nations would bid for set games. These matches could also double as World Cup qualifiers, with the top-ranked nations qualifying for the following World Cup.

    At the same time, Europe would have three international weekends timed along similar lines as the Southern Hemisphere. These games could allow players from the NRL to compete.

    For example, if James Tedesco chose to play for Italy instead of New South Wales and Australia, he could do so. This way he is not missing any club games and we are not devaluing the regular season by seeing games with Origin players missing from teams.

    If this rule were applied with some of the eligibility regulation changes I highlighted in a previous article, the international teams would start to form real identities.

    Ideally you would see the women’s game as a precursor to the men’s. Televising both men’s and women’s matches provides plenty of content for the television networks to present to the audience.

    Further, end-of-season internationals would be allowed to take place – the Kangaroos and Lions tours would return. Maybe an Asia Pacific Cup tournament could take place between world cups – I know I would like to see Australia play Tonga, Samoa and Fiji more often.

    This type of contest would allow fans to witness more international rugby league. It would allow players to represent their nations more often. It would allow us to experience the passion and pride we have seen from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa at this world cup.

    It would give the game the chance to grow and promote the international elements of the sport. Ultimately, it will provide us with more of the greatest game on earth.