A Rugby League World Cup solution

Cathar Treize Roar Guru

By Cathar Treize, Cathar Treize is a Roar Guru

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98 Have your say

    It seems the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) has created an industry for its naysayers and those who simply dislike the sport.

    On sports sites like The Roar rugby league fans who avidly support the international side of rugby league are quite often targeted as though they had something to do with the make up/ failings of the RLWC, and are ostracised for just getting on with watching and loving the tournament.

    The answer to those accusations? There isn’t, in that we are not responsible for the organisation of the tournament. However, like every other sport’s fan who has a passion about their particular code, a right to give an opinion, without the disingenuous chirping of the code’s haters, should be a must.

    So I offer this potential solution to that vexed question of the heritage rule to my fellow Roarers who actually have an interest in international rugby league. As for you others, I don’t really think you’re in it to care.

    Therefore bear with me as it’s not a complex solution. We all know international rugby league is not a rich or well-funded beast at most times and already a potential roadblock to what I will suggest comes to the fore-finance.

    My focus on improving the RLWC focuses on the ‘heritage rule’ which attracted a lot of criticism and I want to negate as much scorn on future RLWCs as I can. The issue with heritage and the RLWC is that there are very few competitive nations in rugby league without this rule. I cannot see that changing for a while yet, potentially decades, given the late development and surge for the sport around the world.

    In the group stages of the RLWC we saw quite a few blowout scorelines, mostly by those nations heavily favoured by the heritage rule against those who went down the admirable but ultimately non competitive domestic player route. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Now how can we solve this issue, why is finance brought into the equation, and what am I suggesting? I mention finance because my solution potentially entails increasing the squad numbers of the RLWC. I think RLWC2021 in England is actually a perfect launching pad for my idea given it will be relatively easier for travel logistics than say Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

    Mitchell Moses Lebanon Rugby League World Cup 2017

    (NRLPhotos/Robb Cox)

    Say we have a group in the tournament involving Australia, Serbia, Tonga and Fiji. Already we know Serbia are basically sacrificial lambs and it will be between Fiji and Tonga to see who advances with Australia to the quarter finals.

    Admirably for our sport, Serbia has a few heritage players to call upon in the multicultural world of Australian rugby league but not enough to overcome their three opponents. Therefore my solution is, that bar a miracle against Australia because the Kangaroos suffer not from a heritage rule and possess the strongest domestic line up in the world, the scoreline might be a tad high in the Kangaroos favour.

    Instead of this being repeated two times over against Fiji and Tonga, those two countries must include a minimum eight domestic players (we’ll call this the ‘domestic rule’) in an extended squad that is also strong enough with heritage players.

    Therefore when Serbia play Fiji and Tonga in group games, the ‘domestic rule’ comes into play for their game day squad of 17, hopefully making these games more competitive. Imagine if Fiji had eight domestic players in their game against the USA in RLWC2017? The score line may not have been so high, even a 36-16 scoreline would look more respectable – and hence ‘legitimate’.

    Now when Fiji and Tonga play Australia, the ‘heritage’ rule could come into play and even when they play each other, given both nations are most likely to have similar heritage player strength, the best teams could take the field. This rule could be repeated even for the quarter and semi-finals, say if Serbia by a miracle made second spot and played Samoa in the quarter finals, for example.

    Again it is just pot luck if they draw New Zealand or England in the quarters but at least a potential solution to a blowout scoreline could be in place if they did advance say against Samoa. It might be another 30-12 scoreline but much better than 50-nil.

    With 16 nations competing in RLWC2021, there is potential for more than one minnow nation making the quarters under this rule and perhaps not even with this potential solution in place based on a draw as opposed to a manipulated grouping. Therefore it is imperative for the legitimacy of the tournament that nations which cannot call on large numbers of heritage players, can compete without both arms tied behind their backs.

    Increasing the number of domestic players in the tournament potentially spurs growth of the sport back in those respective countries.

    The RLWC organisers would have to come up with extra finance to extend squad numbers and local host country rugby league organisations could arrange ‘friendlies’ so an extended squad could gain match fitness. A question may be asked “But how is a team supposed to get any cohesion if they have to chop and change their starting 17 depending on the status of their opponents?” As with finance, this is another potential problem whereby ‘heritage’ and ‘domestic’ players, depending on the luck of the draw, could have an extended rest on the sidelines.

    Hence, solutions can create new issues and the question is, which one is better or is there a solution to a question aforementioned.

    All I know is it will take decades potentially for the many new nations now playing RL to catch up to Australia/NZ/England let alone Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

    There are fans of the heritage rule who say, perhaps rightly, when we saw the effort of Tonga and Fiji recently, that it creates a different and unique sort of world cup for a sport. But it appears there are more detractors and potential new fans in the many new RL nations who might disagree.

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    The Crowd Says (98)

    • Roar Pro

      December 4th 2017 @ 7:25am
      swamprat said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      It looks like International Rugby League has given up trying when heritage teams are allowed to compete in World Cups. It’s a 4 year cycle turning Inwards and going nowhere if that policy continues. Is Rugby League self deluded ? I say yes but the ones in charge will be happy to beleive otherwise.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 2:01pm
        Fred said | December 4th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

        Thanks Mussolini, fascists do have a long history of hating rugby league, so glad to see the tradition continuing.

    • December 4th 2017 @ 8:33am
      chappy said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      People hate what they fear.

      As long as Rugby League has haters then the game must be doing well.

      Doesn’t matter if you Hate or Love league every comment makes RL more popular.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 2:07pm
        Fred said | December 4th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        Very true Chappy, it’s the success of rugby league and its growth internationally that causes the hordes of t r o l l s to swarm international rugby league articles.

        • December 4th 2017 @ 2:09pm
          Fred said | December 4th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

          PS, sad that I had to space out the word t r o l l s. Rugby league haters are free to come on here and spew bile at the sport, but if I call them out as t r o l l s, it automatically gets moderated.

    • December 4th 2017 @ 9:22am
      BA Sports said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Fair play to you as it is an original idea, but I think with World Cups (of any sport) you have to keep it simple so that you can attract those general sports fans and non passionate fans. If it is too hard to follow, they will switch off.

      Those fans are far more inclined to go to watch a team where they at least recognise a few names. Yes I know there are some lopsided scorelines, but you are making games less appealing to fans broadcasters and sponsors doing this. You are also making it harder for those teams to compete through the tournament. As we have seen, teams get better the more they play together and you are reducing that time with this rule.

      Don’t worry about nay-sayers they come out for every sport. Watch them all come out when they are forced to watch Tunisia and Panama play each other at the football World Cup.

      And a quick writing request from a non-writer: It took about 9 paragraphs to get to your idea… maybe shorten your intro just a little… thanks

      • December 4th 2017 @ 9:57am
        Cathar Treize said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        No worries, thanx for the feedback and yes there will always be participating nations in world cups in any sport who will struggle

        • Roar Guru

          December 4th 2017 @ 10:22am
          Sleiman Azizi said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          I don’t think there is any real issue concerning blowouts or weaker nations participating in a World Cup.

          It happens in all sports, both large and small.

          For me, that issue is more a matter of how the sport is presented and marketed – if at all.

          Rugby league rarely takes on the critics, takes a timid approach and lets them have their way and eventually their influence.

          What the code could benefit from is a leader with some charisma, a sharp wit and good relations with the media. Rugby league has absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

          The last few weeks has seen numerous … types… criticise the World Cup not to improve it (which would be acceptable) but simply for the sake of belittling the code.

          And every single time they have been shot down for the inanity that they sprout.

          Their arguments lack any substance and their only saving grace is their persistence.

    • Roar Pro

      December 4th 2017 @ 9:39am
      swamprat said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      If you’re happy for League to stagnate then support the current cul de sac that defines International footy through heritage teams. You will still be having this same debate (this is a forum) in 24 years time.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 2:03pm
        Fred said | December 4th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

        Thanks Mussolini, fascists do have a long history of hating rugby league, so glad to see the tradition continuing.

    • Roar Guru

      December 4th 2017 @ 9:43am
      Sleiman Azizi said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      The solution to every single Test match rugby league ‘problem’ is to play Test matches.

      Other than that, there may be merit in the idea of the respective players’ associations for the NRL and RFL (I know, the RFL actually need to get one first….) to negotiate the payment rights for players who are called up for Test match duty irrespective of nation.

    • December 4th 2017 @ 10:33am
      Whiskers said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      What is it with site and soccer and rugby fans constantly moaning they’re somehow being picked on on? It’s nut and boring

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