Moving forward from the 2017 World Cup

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru


21 Have your say

    The 2017 Rugby League World Cup produced some remarkable moments that will live long in the minds of many fans.

    Who could forget the hymns of the Fijians, the passionate war cries of Tonga and Samoa? Also, some of the play was pure class. The Papuans showcased their skill and passion for the game while the Tongans reminded us all of why rugby league is so great.

    The final was worthy of the tournament. I was at the game, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The game was an epic battle between two champions. In the end, some poor passes, some dropped ball and one miss tackle was all that separated the two teams.

    Although the result went Australia’s way, as most pundits and fans predicted the question that every fan, player and administrator should be asking is: where to from here?

    In 2018, there will be an international weekend. There will be no NRL or Super League on this weekend. Origin will be played on a Sunday night. At the end of the year, the Kiwis travel to England for a three-match series.

    This scheduling is heading in the right directions, but do you see the problem? Are there any matches at the end of the season for Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Lebanon, Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea? Australia will play one Test. The sporadic nature of international rugby league is not good enough.

    Hopefully, the NRL takes the lead and organises more games for the so-called minnows.

    Otherwise, we will be arguing for the same thing in four years’ time.

    Tonga tall

    (NRLPhotos/Fional Goodall)

    Ideally, future World Cups will build on the success of this tournament. Television audiences were solid throughout the tournament, with Channel Seven regularly winning the timeslot. The BBC will broadcast the next tournament in Britain. This free-to-air coverage all bodes well for the international game.

    This coverage will open up the game to the broader public in Britain who do not have pay television and therefore have limited access to the sport of rugby league. Unfortunately for the game in Britain, it gets starved of publicity which hinders its development in the country.

    The next tournament will consist of 16 teams. I’m not sure how the teams will be selected. It would be nice if at least two American nations were included, considering that North America will host the 2025 World Cup. Including a team from the African continent with the rest comprised from the Asia-Pacific and Europe would give the tournament a real international feel.

    All in all, the process behind this World Cup has confirmed that rugby league is a growing sport internationally. Albeit slowly and despite opposition from individuals and organisations who wish to stop its progress and who also wish to see the game’s demise.

    One day it would be nice if the Rugby League World Cup was as big as rugby union’s. It might not happen in our lifetime, but with the National Rugby League’s help, the game should be aiming for it to happen – sooner rather than later.

    Overall, every step needs to be taken by the administrators to make the most of the positive of this World Cup. What is clear from this World Cup tournament is that the appetite for international rugby league is well and truly alive.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • December 5th 2017 @ 8:12am
      Not so super said | December 5th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Maybe the minnows can organise the games themselves? Then perhaps we will increase the legitimacy of the international game rather than being run by Australians ?

      • December 7th 2017 @ 9:50am
        Cathar Treize said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Well the Emerging Nations Cup will be held in 2018 so should be interesting to see the squads those participating nations will bring?

    • December 5th 2017 @ 8:40am
      Rob9 said | December 5th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      The National Rugby League has no responsibility nor should it be concerning itself with growing the game in far away lands with next to no or limited interest in the game. It’s domain is Australia and New Zealand and there’s still much work to be done here. How about cultivating its presence in places like Perth and Adelaide, continuing to establish itself in Melbourne, not to mention shoring itself up in the regional heartland areas across NSW and QLD where ovals with 4 sticks at either end and soccer goal posts continue to pop up and a fill with young people on the weekends.

      • Roar Guru

        December 5th 2017 @ 9:46am
        Adam said | December 5th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        How about having some of presence in Tasmania as well. I believe that the local competition has gone the way of the dinosaur again.

        • December 5th 2017 @ 11:23am
          Justin Kearney said | December 5th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Yep. They killed the game here and are now telling us we have to fix it. Its laughable.

          • Roar Guru

            December 5th 2017 @ 11:37am
            Adam said | December 5th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Good luck mate. Don’t envy you. Trying to run either rugby code in Tasmania is an absolute battle.

      • December 5th 2017 @ 10:00am
        woodart said | December 5th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        nrl does a poor job of making league an australian wide game, cant see it doing anything for international league. cant see league going anywhere until the international league federation takes charge of the game. clubs in any sport dont have the international game as a priority. look at how the english and french rugby clubs are trying to stuff international rugby by not leaving free weekends for international games.

    • Roar Pro

      December 5th 2017 @ 8:44am
      QConners said | December 5th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      The general conception that’s been established from this World Cup, is that we need to see more international footy and more often. There needs to be a consistent 4-year cycle of international footy with competitions in place for every nation.

      Cameron Smith poses a great idea that we should probably reduce the NRL season. Even if it were to 23 rounds so that we have a few extra weeks available to create consistent international competitions.

      • December 5th 2017 @ 9:46am
        paul said | December 5th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Surely the heads of the Rugby League Boards from the various nations can get together and nut out a short and long term blueprint to move the game forward internationally? The only thing we should do as a nation is support tier 2 teams by releasing players and making sure games are televised at reasonable times on free to air TV.

      • December 5th 2017 @ 9:47am
        paul said | December 5th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Smith’s idea is sound but the Clubs would lose 3 rounds worth of revenue, as would sponsors. Can’t see it happening, sadly.

        • December 5th 2017 @ 12:02pm
          Boz said | December 5th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          I’d love to see them Add 2 more teams and have a 19 round comp, with a month off in the middle for Origin, Pacific Tests etc. Surely having an extra match to televise every round, coupled with the increase value of international football would place Rugby League in no worse position than it is now.

    • December 5th 2017 @ 12:08pm
      Scott said | December 5th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      Maybe we have the plate and trophy finals on QF night as curtain raiser. The minnows who miss QF get to play in a Plate final for best placed minnows?
      we see after round 1 some minnows were already unable to make QF so this gives an incentive to strive for something other than the privileged of wearing the country colours.

    • December 5th 2017 @ 6:56pm
      Jacko said | December 5th 2017 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

      The biggest problem for teams from the PI is their supporter base in the PI is not financially strong and TBH their main supporter base is in NZ

      • December 5th 2017 @ 7:55pm
        Terry Tavita said | December 5th 2017 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

        you’re not seeing the big picture..the tongan team should draw good crowds in england and the island rugby union teams always draw good crowds in the US with their close-knit communities there..

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Jacko said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          And who pays for these tests in USA and Europe? Do you think the players will be fine with $30 a day? Doing a 1 off WC is one thing but longterm with no money is an issue

    • December 5th 2017 @ 10:20pm
      Johhno said | December 5th 2017 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

      I no longer think the NRL should pay the wages of men’s senior pacific nations teams, why?

      1) local stuff: NRL have enough financial problems, eg bush footy in Australia needs funds/womens rugby league/Jillaroos/mens and women’s u-20’s

      2) Can of worms: Funding men’s senior pacific sides, then what? Wouldn’t it be fair to fund the senior women’s canada side or PNG women’s side? or the men’s and women’s u-20’s sides in the pacific? Sorry the NRL don’t have that sort of coin and can’t “cherry pick”. You can’t fund men’s senior pacific island sides but ignore senior women’s pacific sides or u-20’s sides or the Jillaroos or bush footy.. I’d rather the money was spent on a 30-player full time Jillaroos squad all centrally contracted to the NRL.. The Jillaroos and bush footy are a bigger priority than funding the Tongan men’s senior side.
      What next we also have to fun the Phillipines mens senior side who are improving, or do we fund the kiwi men’s u-20’s side(as we already subsidise the kiwi senior men’s side) and what about funding the NZ senior womens side to by the NRL
      Can of worms open, the NRL should olnly fund Australian national teams, too many cans of worms open otherwise and stuff like bias and unfair if some overseas sides get funded in the pacific and other sides don’t eg men’s funding but no funding for women. PNG our main pacific partner the PNG womens side have as much right to funding as the Men’s senior side from Tonga, or the PNG men’s side for that matter. To many cans of worms opens if NRL start funding overseas specific sides.
      Bush footy in Australia and the Jillaroos should be the priority.. The NRL already has a pacific strategy in place, developing players who might make the NRL anyway, so it shouldn’t have to fund national teams from the pacific, to many cans of worms opened.

      • December 6th 2017 @ 5:29pm
        Kangajets said | December 6th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report


        Bush footy is all but dead . Afl and soccer are growing massively in the juniors in Newcastle, a supposed rugby league heartland.

        • December 6th 2017 @ 9:53pm
          Fred said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

          I don’t know that I’d call NSW’s second biggest city ‘the bush’. Go to somewhere like Dubbo or Parkes, AFL and A League have ZERO support.

        • December 6th 2017 @ 9:56pm
          Fred said | December 6th 2017 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

          And rugby league can’t be doing too bad in Newcastle, if the Knights can get regular big crowds despite being back to back wooden spooners.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:26am
          Cathar Treize said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

          The ‘Bush’ is struggling full stop from govt inaction in a number of areas! The number of new RL initiatives being launched over the next year or two by the increase in funding to the CRL from the Aust RL Commission should see a reversal in fortunes. Lets remember this new pay cycle of the NRL is the biggest jump in funding the sport has ever had & its the women who are now leading the revival of bush footy, which is actually very clever of the rugby league.

          Small towns which just didn’t have the population anymore to put out mens teams & the physical requirements (lets not kid ourselves soccer & AFL are marketed as easier physical pastimes) are now entering womens teams to great effect. Added, league tag & touch are rolled out to catch a changing market but whatever the critics say, they are essentially non contact versions of RL providing the essential skills (minus tackling) of our sport & statistics show a percentage will progress to the tackle form of the game.