Rugby league can take a lot from the Rugby Championship if it wants the international game to grow.
The Rugby Championship has single handedly helped Argentina grow as a force in the sport.
Typically, you’d understand that a South American country wouldn’t be great at the 15-man code, and you’d be right, they weren’t, but now thanks to this recent competition, the popularity of the sport has blown up and the team are now able to compete with powerhouse teams as well as comfortably beat other countries. They are a success story of international rugby.
With the upcoming Four Nations coming up, it is a perfect time to bring up the ambiguity of the development of international rugby league.
It’s no coincidence that rugby league is weak on a global scale, and a big part of that is because of the neglect the people in charge have on various nations. Australia is basically spoonfed any player they want, as evidenced by Semi Radradra making his debut earlier this year, even though he had no clear eligibility.
I personally think that if the Four Nations was to feature the same teams every year, the lowest ranked team would eventually become a powerhouse, similarly to what Argentina have done.
This year the fourth team in the competition is Scotland. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Scots get their chance to shine, and I’m sure they’ll have a few NRL and Super League players sprinkled in their line-up, but the reality is they’re going to get absolutely demolished against the likes of Australia, England and New Zealand.
The worst thing about this is that they won’t be better off from the experience immediately. They may not be picked for the next series, and could go back and linger in the obscurity that other international league teams end up in.
My solution is that the Four Nations include the same four teams to help develop international league as a whole.
Even if the competition was changed to a Six Nations format (including Australia, England, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji), the three latter nations would no doubt receive some significant boosts over a number of years. Then, those teams could be replaced with others when they would be able to stand their ground and flourish.
I find it imperative that all nations be given as many opportunities as possible to grow and compete, and I feel this very well could be a solution for many different nations.
International rugby league is something that a lot of people don’t pay any notice to, which is a great shame, because the highest level of competition has provided some great moments. Sure, there is a lot more work to be done, but I know for a fact that if the international game grows, rugby league as a whole will grow.