Is it time to scrap the World Club Challenge?

MG Burbank Roar Guru

By MG Burbank, MG Burbank is a Roar Guru

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    The excitement is palpable as we near the World Club Challenge. Or not.

    I’m having second thoughts about the whole idea. Or let’s make that eighth thoughts.

    And I’m not even talking about the daft idea to expand the thing. I’ve been in therapy on a weekly basis for 16 years, trying to expel Super League’s 1997 World Club Championship from my mind.

    Nothing is working. For the record: Round two of the ‘competition’ featured the Hunter Mariners beating Paris 32-4 at Topper Stadium in front of an holographic crowd of 2,000.

    But even the original, stand-alone game, which kicked off in 1987, seems a little worn at the seams.

    Kevin Sinfield, responding to Australian scorn over his Golden Boot award for the world’s best international player, said that Aussies ”probably think they have the better competition”.

    Um… not probably, Kev. The NRL is streets ahead of the English Super League- but how can we maintain that when most of the time our premiers head over to England in February and get rolled?

    Let’s stop deluding ourselves. Australian premiership coaches have been treating this game as a slightly-important trial match for years.

    Yes, most of the elite players play, but the NRL season hasn’t kicked off yet, players are not fully prepared and they’re also spending 413 hours on a plane.

    Meanwhile, the English players are further into their playing year and an established routine and are all hopped up on a fully developed inferiority complex and a truckload of kippers (even with all that, Manly were dead-average in last year’s game and were still in it with 10 minutes to play).

    This game has meaning for the English players, not to mention their club’s supporters. Which might be a good reason to keep it going.

    I just can’t help the feeling that we either need to make it a more meaningful contest or just scrap it altogether and go back to the real English tour our elite players used to take and the fans love.

    That of the Kangaroo variety.

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    The Crowd Says (43)

    • January 13th 2013 @ 4:45am
      Johnno said | January 13th 2013 @ 4:45am | ! Report

      It stuffs up, pre-season training up for the aussy teams, having to fly over to England, and pay such an intense game, with a grand final like energy. I don’t like the all stars game either, I say shift the all stars match too the test footy weekend, and scrap city vs country, or have an all stars vs NZ maori match or vs the pacific islanders all stars or Exciles VS All stars match.

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2013 @ 5:15am
        MG Burbank said | January 13th 2013 @ 5:15am | ! Report

        These would all be fine, Johnno, but at least the Indigenous match is a positive affirmation for the indigenous community and is also clearly just an exhibition. I think it’s a fun way to kick off the season and provides exposure for some players who might otherwise not receive it.

        I actually like the idea of a Maoris v Islanders/Oceania game. It could run on the same weekend and would help to grow the game further in those regions.

    • January 13th 2013 @ 7:44am
      Brad said | January 13th 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      The concept should be expanded not scrapped.Look at the champions league in soccer…. For the game of rugby league to grow you need to grow international comps like this.

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2013 @ 10:06am
        MG Burbank said | January 13th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        You simply cannot compare soccer with league. The Champions League is a worldwide event, watched across the globe and involving the best teams from the many elite leagues across Europe. Rugby League has TWO elite-level competitions, and one is an inferior product. Simply playing the game won’t advance league anywhere- we have to do something with it to attract attention.

        But not EXPAND! Do you really want to see the teams below Leeds playing the Storm, Bulldogs and Souths in meaningful matches? won’t happen- they tried it in 1997 and the final was between Hunter and the Broncos. The English clubs were destroyed.

        • January 14th 2013 @ 10:05am
          Renegade said | January 14th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report


          The 1997 version included all clubs…..they could expand it to a top 4 scenario.

          I’m happy with the way it is, the premiers of each club playing…..we really do sound like whinging poms ourselves when we say stupid things like “we only lose cause we don’t care”….that has to be the worst excuse anyone could ever come with.

          The fact the NRL clubs travel across the globe and have to adopt to a new climate is more of a reason for their struggles rather than “it’s a trial match”.

    • January 13th 2013 @ 8:13am
      eagleJack said | January 13th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      MG I don’t think it should be scrapped but it certainly needs to be tinkered with.

      Firstly play it at the end if the year the 2 clubs involved actually win their respective comps. Currently the NRL teams have only played a couple of trial games while the ESL are 3 games into their season proper. The high intensity of a game like this so early in the season is a recipe for injuries to key personnel. Not to mention with salary cap restraints and player movement the teams involved are different to the premiership sides from the previous year.

      Also alternate it between nations or have it played in a neutral country, equidistant from Aus and Eng, to showcase the event. Cam Smith commented a couple of years ago that the full effects of the travel still linger in Round 5 of the NRL comp. This has to have a long term effect on an NRL teams fitness levels at the back end of the year. And certainly could be a reason why no side has gone back-to-back since 1993.

      The concept of the WCC is fine and is good for the game. The application of it screams of the administrators not really caring.

    • January 13th 2013 @ 8:28am
      Big Time said | January 13th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      The game is purely there to increase exposure in UK. Everything favours the UK team. Rugby League in Australia is well established whilst in UK it is a continuous struggle. They win this game and it makes headlines, Poms love beating Aussies.

      Dragons took it seriously in 2011 and won, but they then struggled at the end of the season.

      They will not play at end of season, as Super League teams would NEVER win!

    • January 13th 2013 @ 8:32am
      Droppa said | January 13th 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      We need it to get a win for the poms…

    • January 13th 2013 @ 9:30am
      Greg Cross said | January 13th 2013 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      There have been some great Club Challenge games before the debacle by Superleague,typical of Superleague.We need to promote Rugby League in England and this match does that.This is a small price to pay for the overall good of the game.I actually enjoy watching the game.They have a great atmosphere.

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