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Time to take advantage of the World Cup's success

DISCORD

Built for success: The World Cup and the Kangaroos.

Built for success: The World Cup and the Kangaroos. Photo: Getty Images

It's a popular sport among a certain section of rugby league fans in Australia to make fun of Super League, which kicks off on Friday night with Wigan playing Huddersfield.

But consider this: Super League now has a naming rights sponsor, a new and ambitious competition structure and a television rights deal extending to 2021.

International rugby league, which hit a highpoint during last year's World Cup, still doesn't know what games it is staging THIS year.

How is it possible that we don't have a draw or venues for this year's Four Nations, two months after a World Cup that made $6 million? Great Britain want to tour for the first time in 24 years next season and no-one in Australia or New Zealand has told them if they can.

On one hand, the new NRL administration seems more interested in international development than previous regimes. They are considering playing exhibition games at Wembley.

But on the other, they don't seem to be able to make decisions on the immediate to medium-term future. When the 2014 NRL draw was announced, the venue for the ANZAC Test on May 2 was 'TBA'.

No-one is saying it but there is a concern in the northern hemisphere that the NRL has agreed to pay players so much for representing Australia that it's become too expensive to stage a Test match and make a profit.

Super League has clubs with major financial problems and an active rebellion underway among those who don't have them. The new competition structure is ... weird.

But we should remember that all is not rosy in the NRL either - particularly when it comes to the vitally important task of building on the legacy of the World Cup.


Foreign intrusion will not be tolerated

The latest news from America is intriguing.

There's what purports to be a leaked email doing the rounds, in which a flagship team of the establishment AMNRL distances itself from the organisation, which sent the United States Tomahawks to the World Cup.

I stress this 'purports' to be a leaked email, although the New York Knights have yet to deny its authenticity.

"We decided to no longer tolerate foreign intrusion in U.S. RL domestic & international matters," says the missive, sent by the Knights to the AMNRL and to Aussie Steve Johnson who assembled the Tomahawks.

"No offense to our friends in Australia but we want the game in America to be run exclusively by people who can physically be present at every game.  We strongly believe that knowledge of the local reality and field commitment are the required attributes to move forward and put behind us this delusional hope that we're about to become professional anytime soon.

"Why would we need foreign assistance while the U.S. is by far the country with the best athletic programs and sports business structures?  Note that most NRL coaches are desperate to attend an NFL training session...

"I know you guys think that we "shock (sic) the world" at the RLWC but the sad reality is that, beyond the good performances of this 2nd Australian team wearing U.S. jerseys, we also lost a large contingent of talented American players who will play 7′s this summer and pursue their hyphothetical Olympic dream, simply because they know they have nothing to play for on a RL field!

"We literally spoiled a great opportunity to expose our boys (and subsequently our clubs) to top level RL so I personally can't continue to tacitly endorse this approach."

The email is signed 'G'. Guillaume Cieutat is listed as coach on the club's website, Rob Balachandran as president. Discord has been assured that despite all this, the AMNRL are playing on. If Cieutat chooses not to be involved, that is regarded by other AMNRL clubs as his choice.

AMNRL clubs remain defiant.


Some words of thanks

Thanks, as always, for the comments last week.

Oethesaint was worried about Super League extending its TV deal until the next decade. He said that no matter what the figure is, there is a good chance it could be better if the RFL had waited. Sky extended a number of sports at the same time; in many ways it was a similar situation to the birth of Super League in that the money was not going to be on the table long.

Matty T suggested stopping the clock with all stoppages, then shortening the regulation time in games to 30 minutes per half. But commercially, from the point of view of television, we need longer games with more stoppages.

If games got shorter, rights holders could ask for money back!

4 comments so far

  • Steve, re the super league tv deal the fact the Sky offer wasn't on the table for long was all the more reason to reject it - as the Wigan and Salford chairmen said it is a seller's market with BT Sport and their deep pockets on the scene.

    The likely departure of Sam Burgess is the result we get (and deserve) for not investing in the international game over many years. I am hopeful that the ARLC and others will realise this before it's too late - we need more big stage occasions like Wembley and Old Trafford were at the World Cup to compete with our rivals.

    Finally, the White line fever podcast of the Super league launch was tops. I'll be watching Eurosport at 7am Saturday for the opener.

    Commenter
    Oethesaint
    Location
    Rugby league planet
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 9:48PM
    • Red Hall has hinted a return of Great Britain through a Lions Tour in lieu of a four nations tournament. This to me seems like such a backwards step, as it sends the wrong messages to improving teams such as Scotland and also derails any consistency the international calender was hoping to maintain. Whats wrong with 1x WC followed by 3x 4N's, with concurrent regional tournaments to determine the fourth nation. This structure would be simple, solid, dependable and fair for all involved. For the RL world to be sidelined by sporadic lions tour, as was the case when all fixtures gave way to an 'All Golds Tour' in 2007; is completely uninventive, unprofessional and plain BORING.

      Commenter
      Friendly_Raptor
      Location
      England
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 3:28AM
      • Steve, re the super league tv deal the fact the Sky offer wasn't on the table for long to create pressure was all the more reason to reject it - as the Wigan and Salford chairmen have said it is a seller's market with BT Sport and their deep pockets on the scene.

        The likely departure of Sam Burgess is the result we get (and deserve) for not investing in the international game over many years. I am hopeful that the ARLC and others will address this before it's too late - we need more big stage occasions like Wembley and Old Trafford were at our World Cup to compete with the appeal of the rah rah World Cup.

        Finally, the White line fever podcast of the Super league launch was tops. I'll be watching Eurosport at 7am Saturday for the opener.

        Commenter
        Oethesaint
        Location
        Rugby league planet
        Date and time
        February 07, 2014, 6:40AM
        • The World Cup was a great success and it would be great if there was a developing nations World Cup.Perhaps a State of Origin match could be played in England.Why not extend the club challenge to 4 teams,two from Super League and two from NRl.The 9s format could be an excellent way to spread the gospel of Rugby League.The Pacific Cup should be resurrected and played every year.An extended tour by Great Britain would be popular especially if some games were played in country areas.Let's have a strategic plan for our game and everyone will benefit.All areas of the game need to work together.

          Commenter
          Bluesbreaker
          Location
          Curl Curl
          Date and time
          February 07, 2014, 3:27PM

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