The World Cup has been a joy so far – with a few notable exceptions

Edward Kelly Roar Guru

By Edward Kelly, Edward Kelly is a Roar Guru New author!


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    The powerhouse of this World Cup has been the Pacific Nations.

    All the drama of players switching allegiances saw more feeling in many of their games. The players have shown us how to do a rivalry – hard, but with respect – and the crowds have loved it.

    Speaking of crowds, it’s clear that league has a strong foothold in Papua New Guinea and to maintain the momentum, we need more of these blokes playing in the NRL – the nation’s talent needs a pathway to the top level.

    It’s also been great to see the full grounds in New Zealand. From an Aussie perspective, it was nice to see that the home team didn’t have the most support in the crowd. For many years the All Blacks have effectively been playing home games in Australia, as all the Kiwis in the crowd seeming to outnumber Aussie fans.

    The casual chat of the video ref has been great too. Perhaps the robotic Bunker could learn to chill and have a chat to the viewers to explain what they are looking at and why they make their decisions.

    Channel Seven’s coverage has also been refreshingly professional, without drama and very few rants during the commentary.

    My personal highlight so far though was the singing of the Tongan crowd – simply joyous and beautiful.

    However, there have been some less-than-inspiring aspects of the World Cup thus far, headlined by the lack of crowds in Australia.

    The thrashings are also a bad look. Perhaps there needs to be a towel on the sideline that any coach can throw in when all hope is gone? I am not a fan of run-away scores.

    Then there’s the one-referee system, which was supposed to be wonderful but, the reality hasn’t quite been so great.

    The ruck has been getting more and more out of control as teams realise that the one referee cannot police everything – ditto the ten metres, which is just too much for one person to police.

    Meanwhile, has anyone seen a northern hemisphere player actually touch the football with their foot in the play the ball? I haven’t.

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    The Crowd Says (76)

    • November 14th 2017 @ 4:28am
      Johnno said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:28am | ! Report

      Loads of positives this RLWC, but a few negatives…
      1) tough injury replacement rules.. The RLIF has really tough rules to replace injured players eg special dispensation rules are tough. In rugby union world cups you can replace players east who are out for rest of tournament not in League World Cup. Fiji/Lebanon are undermanned, and so are Tonga and Australia now down players out of the World Cup. But they haven’t been replaced as it seems they know the RLIF will say no.. You way squad depth not undermanned, tired and weakened squads…
      2) venue locations. The RLIF took games to highest bidder rather than gate takings. It placed highest value on tv ratings and host cities and states paying hosting fees rather than gate takings. Which might make sense but it has meant a poorer game day experience in some matches… Lebanon should of played France at Belmore not Canberra, Italy vs Ireland should of been held in Melbourne where big communities are of both nations… Tonga should have played Scotland in west Sydney not up in Cairns etc. But it all cane down to host cities coughing up the money, but that has made a few game day experiences less exciting and tv spectacle less exciting to. Heck Belmore should of hosted all Lebanon games, the atmosphere would have been electric…
      PNG should of pinched a quarter final match to be hosted in PNG, watching England in Port Moresby would be far more exciting atmosphere and help PNG cause an upset with all the advantages of playing at home which is what we want as many upsets as possible and watch the Big-3 be weakened where ever possible. Watching England lose or haveing little preparation to adapt to png weather and more likely lose to png would be good for rugby league and passionate png fans. Instead England are playing in Melbourne which will be far more neutral as many England ex pats live in Melbourne and travelling English fans. It would have been better if in png to make it as hard for England to win and adjust to heat and passionate png crowd, you want to give the Tier-2”s as a many advantages to even things up and beat the Big-3, as neautral fans want to see the Big-3 lose so any help the Tier-2”s can get eg hostile atmosphere for Tier-1”s eg hosting a q/f in PNG to give PNG strong advantages… So yeah venue choices for some games were a bit surprising…

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 6:59am
        Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

        Except for some lower-tiered matches, the crowds in Australia haven’t been as bad as some make out.

        I mean, in a country that has for so long been fed the idea that international rugby league is rubbish, to have crowds of around 7,000 attend tier 3 team matches in outlying regions of the main cities is not a bad thing at all.

        14,000 turned up for England and France in Perth which is pretty good for two out of town teams and a city with no NRL presence.

        21,000 turned out to Australia v Lebanon which was unreal. 22,000 saw Australia play England in a non-heartland city.

        These last examples show that basically the Kangaroos are a brand that people properly want to see.

        Wherever they go the crowds follow. They are perhaps the most underutilised sporting brand in the country and league needs to wake up to that fact.

        The RLIF need income since the World Cup is pretty much their only revenue stream. A guarantee from city and state bids is a godsend for them and at the moment is a better option than a cut of ‘gate takings’.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am
          Fred said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          Still it’s a shame that we couldn’t have seen one of the Townsville/Cairns/Canberra games in somewhere like Newcastle. If Novocastrians will turn up on mass to see back-to-back wooden spooners, I’m sure they’d turn up to see the likes of Fiji. With Cairns it didn’t help having a 2pm afternoon game…

          But yes crowds have been better than people make out. I recall before the world cup people saying they were worried about crowds in NZ. I recall before the world cup people dreading how bad the crowds would be for the Lebanon games.

          • Roar Guru

            November 14th 2017 @ 9:47am
            Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            That 2pm timeslot in Cairns was a bit rough but even then, despite the heat and humidity, thousands turned up. Despite the naysayers, there are lot of positive to be taken from the experience.

            The SFS negotiated directly with the RLIF and they were obviously satisfied with their bid, hence the two matches there.

            How much clout would Newcastle have had to independently negotiate a bid for matches separate from the state government?

            Interesting question to which I don’t have the answer to.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 2:04pm
          Felix said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

          England v France was double header…

          • Roar Guru

            November 14th 2017 @ 2:24pm
            Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

            Yes, and the crowd got progressively larger and larger as the main match approached.

            That’s usually how it is for double headers.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 9:58am
              Maestro said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

              But they are counting it as one game so again deceptive as per usual RL marketing

              • Roar Guru

                November 17th 2017 @ 8:59pm
                Sleiman Azizi said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

                All marketing is deceptive.

                That’s why it is marketing.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 1:16pm
        theHunter said | November 14th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        It would have made sense for PNG to have hosted a finals match too. This World Cup was hosted by 3 Nations, and for that reason PNG should have been given the chance to host a finals match more so now that they made the finals.

        New Zealand, a host nation, challenges Fiji at Wellington in the Qualifying finals. And Tonga play in Christchurch (this definitely feels more like a home game for the Tongans?) against Lebanon. Australia, a host nation, plays their qualifying final at Darwin while PNG, despite a host nation, has to challenge England at Melbourne? Who does this scheduling anyway?

        Reasons for applying/challenging to host a World Event is, among other things, the home advantage and if PNG made the finals, it should have been a logical choice to have given them the home challenge. New Zealand are hosting two QF finals, OZ hosts one and PNG misses out? This is just too one sided IMO

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:12am
      Jimmmy said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Do you really want to go back to policing the play the ball with the foot rule.? The Poms don’t use their feet at all I agree ,but does it affect the spectacle of the game ? Only if some Ref is dumb enough to start pulling it up.

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am
        Edward Kelly said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        It is a little thing that does annoy me. Last year it was in the NRL, then with a little refereeing and a general warning it was cleaned out of the game. In touch footy you can do it, but in the real game I feel it makes the player stand up and do a deliberate act. How many times have you seen a fatigued player stuff up the play the ball? I would just like it to be one or the other but not both.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 10:09am
          souvalis said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          ‘Fatigued forward stuffing up play the ball’…blame the coaches for that..if the rule isn’t being policed,why have your players run that risk ? Order them all to tunnel ball…that should force an eventual,official rethink..

        • Roar Guru

          November 14th 2017 @ 10:51am
          Nat said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          I tend to agree with this. The play the ball went from touch it to attempt to touch it now they’re lucky if they’re even straight. It is way too messy. ‘Give an inch’ situation.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:46am
      Kenny said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      I just don’t understand the venue allocation for this tournament so I haven’t shown interest in it .watch one or two games . it’s bloody stupid .nsw has been ignored why it’s RL heartland has been snubbed . why no games in Wollongong and Newcastle and Penrith

      • November 14th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Big Daddy said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Nsw government didn’t offer any money so the RLIF turned their back on nsw fans. It’s all about money.
        Even could have matches at Gosford.
        As far as play the ball is concerned why pick on poms , it’s non existent here anyway.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 9:29am
          Ron Norton said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

          Hear! Hear! How many times have you seen a Southern Hemisphere player play the ball properly? This is one aspect of the game that has got completely out of control. The only player I saw play the ball correctly on a regular basis in the NRL this year was Joel Thompson from St George. Watch him; he plays it with his foot every time.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 8:03pm
            Jacko said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

            Yes and then the ref blows a penalty with NZ on attack for a bad play the ball….which was the same as 99% of all other play the balls….Thats the biggest issue in League…The ref finds a penalty when they want to…and ignores 30 other times the same thing happens

            • November 14th 2017 @ 8:26pm
              Terry Tavita said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

              get over it mate..tonga won..precious crybaby..

            • November 15th 2017 @ 9:59am
              Maestro said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

              See Masters article on refs orchestrting games for TV close result

        • Roar Guru

          November 14th 2017 @ 9:55am
          Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          It’s not a the remit of the RLIF to foster the game in NSW.

          It was the NSW state government that didn’t come to the table, so to speak.

          And yes, it is all about money for the RLIF as the World Cup is their only significant revenue stream. Understandably they require guarantees of income in order to be able to operate.

          I don’t know how much clout cities like Gosford, Newcastle or Wollongong have in negotiating independently of the NSW government (though the SFS was able to do so).

          Perhaps they tried but couldn’t offer a decent enough bid?

          • November 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm
            Cathar Treize said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            Must remember though the NSW govt gave the RLIF $500k for the women’s RLWC side of things. Better than nothing I suppose.

            • Roar Guru

              November 14th 2017 @ 8:42pm
              Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

              Oh really?

              Wow, that is pretty good. I never knew that.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 11:50am
              DMac said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

              You mean NSW tax payers gave it.

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 9:50am
        Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Venue allocation dampened your interest in the World Cup?

        Venue allocation?!?


        • November 14th 2017 @ 1:40pm
          Stu said | November 14th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          Incredibly bizzare isn’t it…

        • November 14th 2017 @ 8:32pm
          Concerned Observer said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

          I actually completely agree with Kenny, it’s really hard to watch the game on my couch at home. I just can’t stand the colour pattern on the ad boards! It should be Yellow black red, not red black yellow!

          Utterly unwatchable, this tournament’s a joke! Whatever andrew/TBBB/Maestro said!

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 8:16am
        Michael Keeffe said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Yeah I don’t watch my clubs away games on tv, because I don’t like the venues. It’s ridiculous that they can’t play all their games at home. How are we expected to watch a game in Cairns on our tv’s. Just crazy scheduling…

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Fred said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      I think it’s been great all round!

      And with the ‘thrashings’ – most have those have been handed out not by the big 3 (ok a couple) but by new rising countries – Tonga, PNG, Fiji (heck, even Ireland). So these are proof of the game growing!

      We’ve always been worried about an unbridgeable gap between the big 3 and the rest, but this world cup has proven that’s no longer the case.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 2:05pm
        Felix said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        and the others are slipping behind is the other objective view..

        • November 14th 2017 @ 4:40pm
          Fred said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          No – countries like Wales have stood still, countries like PNG and Fiji have leapt forward.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 6:06pm
            matth said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

            Absolutely correct. Having PNG in the Q-cup has helped them develop professionalism and depth to match their enthusiasm. When Fiji get into the NSW comp it may well do the same.

            Wales have been the big disappointment for me. They used to be much stronger.

            • Roar Guru

              November 14th 2017 @ 8:50pm
              Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

              To be fair though, a lot of their Super League players weren’t available to play.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 11:54am
                Fred said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                Wales has two teams in League1. Should even one of them get promoted to the Championship, or dare I say it Super League, Wales could improve very quickly.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:28am
      Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      1. selling games to odd places, enough said.
      2. The absolute biased refereeing of the 2nd half of Kiwis vs Tonga game. I think I’ve had one comment in support.
      If that had happened to the Roos!!!!!
      I suppose the general public just watch and go OH WELL or just don’t care when it’s not their team. I’m sure the Tongan coach knows what happened as do the Kiwis.
      I at least had one guy point out some stats for the game, but it’s about the 2nd half. But I suppose I’m just a sore loser and trying to blame the ref. Watch the replay with pen and paper and watch the replays of the incidents, it’s all there ( except for the Fonua strip which probably happened ). It’s a disgrace!

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 11:08am
        Nat said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        What are you looking for Cedric? You’ve written this a few times on a few different threads. You have your interpretation of a few of the calls, other roarers have theirs – agree or not and the bloke with the whistle had his. Fish and chip paper now mate. You’ve made your thoughts clear now time to let it go.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 11:32am
          Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          I don’t want this to happen again to any other team.
          Bet you Robbie Farah and Freddie will be having words with the refs prior to their game. I’ve got a fair idea how the conversation will go…..
          You say my interpretation, you clearly have not bothered to watch the 2nd half replay.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 2:09pm
            Maestro said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report


            I agree – do you have the second half stats – the penalty count dropped off the screen early in second half. As Roy Masters says

            “The practice of referees assuming the role of choreographers, or puppetmasters, is the worst it has ever been in the NRL.
            The 50-50 calls tend to go in favour of the team down the ladder, Perhaps too dedicated. Their weakness is a subconscious need to be party to an even contest, to avert blow-outs….

            They seem to believe they have an obligation to the NRL to present a thrilling TV product, or a close result for spectators.”

            But hell its entertainment for the masses.

            • November 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm
              Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

              At 61 mins nz tv displayed 66% tonga. Full time nz commentators said 70%. There were 6 calls against kiwis which replays showed were wrong, in the 2nd half, they started at 45 mins.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 8:07pm
            Jacko said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

            The Play the ball penalty against Asofa-Solomona and the penalty against Johnson for a hand in the play the ball are 2 perfect examples of total BS biased reffing against NZ and in favor of Tonga…and there are many more

            • November 14th 2017 @ 8:19pm
              Pickett said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report


              Stop being whacko. Tonga scored a legitimate try just before half time and this was called forward pass, which was complete BS.

              I would have been happy to see either team win. Yes, NZ got some dud calls, but so did Tonga – that’s sport. If NZ is good enough, they’ll take the ref out of the equation and win well against a really good Fiji team.

              • November 14th 2017 @ 8:29pm
                Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

                Mate love your team but this is about facts not emotions.

              • November 14th 2017 @ 8:40pm
                Pickett said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:40pm | ! Report


                As I said, I would have been happy to see either team win.

                No emotional attachment to either team.

                Fact – that was not a forward pass from Tonga just before half time. A legitimate try was disallowed.

                Fact – NZ got some dud calls in the second half.

                Fact – If you’re good enough, you get over those dud calls.

                Fact – it was a great game and you are looking like a poor sport by complaining about the ref.

              • November 14th 2017 @ 9:49pm
                Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

                Fact. 6 wrong calls against the kiwis in 30 mins of footy resulting in 30%possession.
                Fact. Kiwis lost, it’s a no brainer.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 10:03am
                Maestro said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

                The forward pass was called by the touchie and not the ref and it was forward – sometimes they are let go – depending on the score of course. It was the earlier pas that was forward not the last one as the touchie stopped on the 10 metre line. That’s a problem with the rules

      • November 14th 2017 @ 1:44pm
        Stu said | November 14th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        I agree Sutton got Tonga back into the game but at the same time the left edge of the kiwis was dismal in the 2nd half. They should have been able to halt Tonga’s momentum on numerous occassions.

        Tonga made the most of their good fortune and good on them.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm
          Cedric said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

          Well with 70% of the pill what do ya reckon

          • November 14th 2017 @ 9:14pm
            Concerned Observer said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

            Think you’ve had your fill here cedric. While I totally agree with you that the ref RUINED that game in the second half there’s just a few things I worry about.

            DWZ… gee whiz they may as well have put a wheelie bin out instead of him in that second half. Never seen a worse display of defense by a NZ winger and that penalty he gave away by skilfully tackling someone in the air in the one kick he actually leapt for was not needed. It gets worse when I think that the bloke sitting on the pine because of him was Nightingale.

            The running joke that was the left edge defense… a few quick silky passes and good running will turn any edge defense inside out but watching a bench forward run through the line virtually uncontested makes me think there’s a couple of problems, as does the fact that all of Tonga’s points came down tht side.

            Also, how great was Lolohea’s intercept? I mean, sure sutton was probably pointing it out to him as everyone’s favourite violent criminal threw a pass that is best described as ‘slow’, ‘glacial’ or ‘begging to be intercepted’ but you can’t fault him for seizing those opportunities.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 10:32pm
            Godragonsgo said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

            You know what………………………….. Look at all this passion for an International league game between New Zealand and Tonga.

            Never seen the likes of this before………. 🙂

    • November 14th 2017 @ 10:14am
      Big Daddy said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      What was the crowd split for Australia v Lebanon. It seemed as though there were a lot more Lebanese supporters so maybe the australian fans didn’t turn up because they were expecting to win.
      The Aussie fans won’t come out until the finals which is a shame.

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Sleiman Azizi said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        I saw a LOT of people with an Australian flag and a Lebanese flag painted on each of their cheeks.

        The anthems received a good hit out for both countries.

        A much lower crowd turned out Lebanon v France while that improved with Australia v France.

        Me thinks the Australia v Lebanon crowd was for the Kangaroos with the Cedars providing a substantially vocal and visual icing on the cake.