How the rugby league world cup can build a lasting legacy

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru


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.

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    The Crowd Says (57)

    • November 12th 2017 @ 7:43am
      Londoner said | November 12th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      I agree there needs to be more international RL. It needs to be financially viable.
      For now, during Origin it would make sense to play
      PNG v Fiji for the Melanesian cup (in PNG, and maybe Sydney)
      Samoa v Tonga for the Polynesian cup (in Auckland)
      NZ v England (in Auckland)
      PNG v France.

      I would bring France and England in, as basically the international game needs a strong france so to spread to Europe, and if only 2% of the French population actually watched a French League International, thats still over a million viewers.
      England of course bring in a lot in terms of revenue and travelling Fans. Putting France against PNG gives them a game they have a decent shot at, and allows them to build a home and away rivalry.

      Surely, each of the above nations can get 1-3 games during origin.

      Ie wk 1 PNG v France, NZ v England, Samoa v Tonga, Cook Isl v Fiji
      wk 2 PNG v Fiji, NZ v Tonga, Samoa v Cook Isl
      wk 3 NZ v PNG, Tonga v Cook isl, Samoa v Fiji.

      All the above games could be played in PNG, and New Zealand, and maybe Sydney. The idea would be to give a boost to NZRL finances, and create regular meaningful games. France and England would not be too put out by 1 game, as SL could take a week off, or just play it on the week of a cup match.

      End of Season ideas.

      PNG, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa could tour Europe (England, France, Wales, Ireland, Lebanon) at least once every 4 years. Possible 4 Nations, with France, England, NZ and Tonga.

      GB v OZ Ashes once every 4 years in Australia.
      England v NZ Home series in England once every 4 years.
      England v OZ Home series

      • November 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Big Daddy said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Can you tell me what the rugby league “ashes” are.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
          Sham said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Google it not that hard

        • November 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
          Londoner said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          1908 Oz team tours England and it is decided the best of 3 series they play was to be called the Ashes. Last official series was 2003. Last series was 2006.

          GB playing a 2-3 Match series in Oz plus a test in Nz and a test in PNG will see good TV ratings in the UK and down under. And elsewhere.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 11:17am
            Big Daddy said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            Hadn’t heard it called that before. Only in cricket I thought.

            • November 12th 2017 @ 11:49am
              Norad said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

              It says Ashes Cup on the 1920s trophy they made

            • November 12th 2017 @ 6:20pm
              Jacko said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

              Yeah they burnt a league ball, 2 jock straps and a ref whistle and put it in an URN…..Why not call it a MotoGP…Im sure the guys take the bus to the grounds.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 8:20am
      Norad said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Decline of the Kangaroos brand continues. Yesterday morning Postecoglou calls his soccer team the Kangaroos in media conference and ARLC stays mute. With soccer being a bad word the Socceroos will be the Kangaroos at the next FIFA World Cup. ARLC and NRL will do nothing except make sure the Kangaroos never play anymore rugby league internationals. Which all helps the FFA dump Socceroos for Kangaroos.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 8:29am
        Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Postecoglou used the term kangaroos in reference to some derogatory comments by local media. No harm in that.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 8:34am
      Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      According to an article today, despite some sluggish crowds the tournament will make 10 million dollars. Tv ratings have been outstanding and apparently have contributed to a 19% drop in A League ratings.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 12:52pm
        Andrew said | November 12th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Did you get the free tickets they were handing out to the Australia vs NSW Cup International last night Buster?
        If not you missed out

        • November 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm
          Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

          Had a top night maestro. Still waiting for your friend request. If you’re going to stalk somebody do it properly.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 6:23pm
            Jacko said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

            Make 10 million???? Geez France offered to pay over 250 million to HOST the Union WC

            • November 12th 2017 @ 6:24pm
              Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report


            • November 12th 2017 @ 6:49pm
              Fred said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

              Article’s not about the union world cup Jacko.

            • November 12th 2017 @ 9:17pm
              Not so super said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:17pm | ! Report

              You want a medal ?

    • November 12th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Oingo Boingo said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      The NRL need to pour a substantial amount of money into grass roots NOW , or there will be no one playing the game in Australia in 10 years .
      The horse needs to be in front of the carriage.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 9:43am
      Birdy said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      Another estate pops up near me.
      The contractor has to, among other things, provide parks and sporting fields.
      You guessed it, another afl field in a RL area.
      Grass roots, unbelievably needs attention, however playing a WCC match in Toronto or NY couldn’t hurt as would Aust V Lebanon in Lebanon could be considered.
      Fiji into the NSW cup a must and a South Pacific cup at origin time is putting its hand up again with the success of those teams in this years RLWC.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 9:45am
        Oingo Boingo said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        What area Birdy ?

        • November 12th 2017 @ 9:57am
          Oingo Boingo said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          I pointed out before how Wagga Wagga had seen a massive redevelopment of the AFL ground , whereas the NRL facility had been demolished and replaced with a much less substantial park setup.
          Wagga was a 50/50 area as kids , but I’m lead to believe it’s more like 80/20 now .

          • November 12th 2017 @ 10:29am
            Cathar Treize said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            Wagga Wagga’s old ground was very much aged & the new facility is much better & development of it hasn’t finished with NRL/govt money to be put into it.

            80/20? Really? Wasn’t like that when I went down during the season. A RL carnival their for girls & boys was one of the largest ever held. The new NRL TV contract is now officially kicking in with AFL type money minus the suns/GWS financial noose etc.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm
            Mat said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            Wagga and surrounds definately need some help but it’s not as dire as you make out. Wagga RL people have done a great job with their new ground on the edge of town. From memory they had a sellout 10,000 crowd for City V Country a few years ago and they’ve apparently been promised an NRL premiership game in 2019.

            I’d say the split is still pretty close to 50/50 but the AFL are definitely better organised and have more money. The NRL really needs to come good with it’s promises for grass roots development before it’s too late.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 3:31pm
            Aligee said | November 12th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

            Wagga itself may have been a 50:50 area, I don’t think it is now, but the surrounding farming areas and small towns have always been overwhelmingly AF, the game was played around and in Wagga 30/40 years before RL was even bought over from the UK, and only grew in Wagga due to teachers, police, public servants etc being relocated from Sydney etc for work.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 9:58am
          Cathar Treize said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          More like a cricket field. Will be empty during winter

        • November 12th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Birdy said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          Halfway between GoldCoast and Brisbane.
          When i talk to parents they describe both rugby codes and soccer as amateur compared to what the afl does at junior level.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 10:43am
            Oingo Boingo said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Yeah , I expect that area would have been 90/10 league 30 yrs ago ..
            It’s the biggest problem facing the game in this country and appears to be an elephant in the room.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Norad said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            How many kids are currently watching the AFL world cup on tv and taking up AFL?

            People suddenly decide that tv has enormous influence on choices by the kiddies except for rugby league.

            • November 12th 2017 @ 1:46pm
              Birdy said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

              I wasn’t making a code war comment just an observation from talking to parents in my area.
              I’m RL all over.
              About 40 years ago a friend of mine started up a 2nd division club in Wollongong. He wrote to the NSW RL and all the clubs for advice and assistance to get started.
              Neither the NSW RL or any clubs even bothered to reply except for one who supplied a set of jumpers and a few footballs but no hands on assistance.

              Talking to parents and a few neighbours, nothing seems to havs changed.
              What a great product we have to have survived over 100 years of mismanagement.

              • November 12th 2017 @ 1:50pm
                Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Your dead right birdy. The game survives and thrives despite a long history of mismanagement.

              • November 12th 2017 @ 6:26pm
                Jacko said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

                Why does it have such a history of mismanagement?

              • November 12th 2017 @ 10:01pm
                Birdy said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

                Well Jacko, if you compare our junior development , promotion development and expanding of the game to the AFL then you would have to say we are lacking.
                However if you compared all of the above to RU then i can understand your question.

      • Roar Guru

        November 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Nat said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        I wonder if the NRL has/can form some type of grant application or GR development committee that could assist in getting new grounds or re-developments applications submitted in a professional manner? Consider most smaller clubs are run by volunteers and few would have the necessary skills in putting together a professional proposal highlighting community developments and ROI. Could be a simple as a log-in with templates and submission criteria to get started. Then a person who interacts with developers, council or grants providers.

        A similar program could be set up with the schools program getting players to visit or even clubs to sponsor local schools for equipment. $5000 p/a can buy branded pads, balls, drills equipment etc. Just a thought.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 11:56am
          Big Daddy said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

          I thought NRL had development officers working through NSRWL and CRL in all country areas. I know some of these guys are ex player’s involved in coaching but do they have the acumen to develop the code.
          AFL target certain areas and poor heaps of money into it. They take advantage of NRL poor mismanagement.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 7:31pm
            Aligee said | November 12th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

            Parents have different mind set these days, RL is s tough game no matter what age and big kids whether they are particuarly skilled or not shine, the different sizes at the same age of kids can be truly mind boggling.

            The safey factor is the biggest factor for parents.

            The AFL try’s to minimise any sort of inequities due to size, which RL just can’t do.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 10:20am
      paul said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      Not sure about the logic of having internationals between other sides played in Australia and NZ. The best way to grow the game in places like Tonga, etc is to let them watch their guys going around. This is not about growing the game in Australia, but doing so world wide. Yes, these ventures would initially lose money, and the League has to be prepared for that, but if these games get high quality players turning out, crowds and interest will grow.

      The only issue are the Clubs. They already don’t like losing players to SOO and these mid-season Tests are likely to mean a further drain on resources. I can see a lot of blokes being selected for sides, but turning up for the first training session with medical ceritificates.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 11:24am
        Brainstrust said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        If you take Tonga double the population is overseas than lives in Tonga and most of those are in Australia and NZ, including their rugby league players.Cook islands its 5-10 times the population is overseas.
        They also have the means to get to games and the stadiums.
        It makes sense for the Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa to be based in Australia and NZ and play the occasional match in the islands.
        PNG is the total opposite..
        Fiji is inbetween they could split matches,
        The only way of making internationals viable cut Origin to one match.
        The flipside to that is a one off match will never have a dead rubber and the ratings would be even bigger.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          Jacko said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          The problem is tho they are not Tongans….They are Australians and NZers….born and bred….Most never even go to their HOMELAND and even less actually do anything in their Homeland so it is a bit of a farce

          How many Aussies call themselves English/Welsh,Scotish/Irish but thats where they first came from

          • November 12th 2017 @ 6:53pm
            Fred said | November 12th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

            If they consider themselves Tongan what’s it matter to you? I can’t imagine an internet warrior like yourself actually telling Tongans they’re not Tongan.

            • November 12th 2017 @ 9:26pm
              Not so super said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

              They are Aussie and Kiwi
              Immigration is a wonderful thing

          • Roar Guru

            November 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm
            Sleiman Azizi said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

            You do know, of course, that international eligibility rules – for all sports – extend no further than a grandparent…

      • November 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm
        beepee said | November 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        Yes, it could be a problem Paul. I’m all for expanding the game, and especially in the PI region where it seems ripe for the picking. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the great crowds in PNG and NZ were due to locals and expats aligned with the teams playing. A crowd of the same size and passion would probably not occur in Australia for neutral teams. For example, PNG v Samoa would be best held in either of those countries.
        But nonetheless, we must take advantage of the huge interest in the game in the Pacific region, and create more tests and tournaments for them to be a part of. Looking over past results, you can actually see these nations supplanting some of the European teams as the best 2nd tier teams (and who knows if that will end in 1st tier by this tournament end).

        • November 12th 2017 @ 8:00pm
          Fred said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

          There were big crowds of Samoans, Tongans, Fijians and Papuans at the Pacific Test this year in Campbelltown.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 9:27pm
        Not so super said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

        Tonga has a population of 100k, that’s huge expansion