Lets Calm the Hysteria.

By Daniel Andruczyk

OK so you must have been on Mars the last week to have missed Russell Crowe’s announcement, or dream really, to have an expanded Rugby League World Club Challenge Tournaments played in the USA. Namely, Las Vegas was named as the likely place. But before we all start bellowing hallelujah, the saviour is here, lets take some Valium and a step back and really analyse what this would mean for the sport of Rugby League. In particular in having it expand internationally. When I thought about this and worked through it, I was surprised. Russell’s proposal could do more damage to Rugby League than good!

So What’s the Deal

OK so the article appeared in the Sydney Morning herald a few days ago, in summary this is what the article says, or what Russell’s dream is:

  • An Expanded Competition featuring 4 teams from the NRL and ESL
  • To be played in the USA
  • Create new revenue streams from international broadcast right
  • Would eventually become like the Champions League in Soccer
  • Would be played after the ESL and NRL Grand Finals
  • Played in a single city, such as Las Vegas
  • 27 games in 3 weeks
  • Over time see teams from the USA, PNG, France and NZ join in

That is it in a nutshell. Sound pretty good hey? I thought so too when the article came out. I thought woohoo finally Russell is getting on the International Rugby League bandwagon. As I went to bed and started to think about how this would all look, a dreaded reality hit and it all started to unravel. In the end I don’t think Russell has really thought this through properly, he has one eye and that is Souths and the NRL rather than overall Rugby League at heart.

I know I just have made many of you upset… but hear me out!

Show me the time!

The title says it all I think, where the hell in the already crowded Rugby League calendar will this fit in? The NRL season Proper runs for 27 weeks, add on another 4 weeks of playoffs, then another 5 weeks of the pre season and then 6 weeks for internationals at the end of the year we have 42 weeks out of 52 taken up by Rugby League. Throw in 3-4 weeks of this World Club Challenge and that leaves only 6 weeks left for the players to have time off and before they get back into training.

We already are complaining that our players are playing too much Rugby League and now we want them to play even more? Some can view it that “Oh they get a trip over seas to Las Vegas or where ever, they will be pampered etc… it will be a holiday for them”. Well hell, then what’s the point of having a tournament if they wont take it seriously of that teams might field under strength teams?! The only way that this tournament could be staged is by having to scale back the International season!

Plus if we do have the 42 week season, then the internationals will end up being played in the middle of the European winters, which would be about now. So if a 4 Nations or European Cup are played then it would be around about this time, and guess what, there is snow and its cold and the sport would also be competing with Soccer and Rugby Union for the airwaves. Insanity! Back in Australia such a tournaments will be competing with Test Match Cricket and Soccer.

Its something that will also line only the coffers of the NRL and ESL, remember that the International game will not see any of this. Also what it does is that it is another incentive for players from other nations like the Pacific Islands to not play internationals and abandon their nations for playing in this competition, further hitting the International games reputation.

In the end all I see with this is a further entrenching of the NRL, and you will see you’ll never see any other nation join in this tournament despite what Russel says. Australia and the NRL just would not allow it. There is no incentive for any other country to promote the sport if they cannot be included in some way.

Where is Russell?

So, I know Russell has done wonders for promoting South Sydney and getting them back on their feet. He has done wonders for promoting the NRL. But that is just the point. He is promoting the NRL and not Rugby League. Don’t be fooled, the NRL is almost as far removed from “Rugby League” as Rugby Union is. The NRL has different rules and in reality sees themselves above the RLIF and anyone else in the way they treat players and other nations.

So I have this question, if Russell Crowe really had the sport at his heart, and he really wants to promote it where was he at the recent Atlantic Cup? If the USA is the big market to cash in on, then he should be helping David Niu and the AMNRL to promote their product. You see I think despite all his years in the USA Russell still doesn’t get one thing about yanks, they follow their own. They will not be interested in a bunch of Aussies and Poms playing a few games. Throw in American teams, promote them and then they do take notice.

Russell should have been in Jacksonville to support and help promote the recent Atlantic Cup. The 12,000 that turned out in Jacksonville a few years ago were mainly due to him being there, but am sure there were many converts as well that day. David Niu says that he was embarrassed by the crowds at the Atlantic Cup, in part the promotion could have been much better from the AMNRL, but if Russell was there I guarantee that the crowds would have been much bigger, there would have been greater TV coverage and promotion. We know that he was in the US that week, he was on Leno and other Talk Shows talking up about Greg Inglis, was there a mention of the AMNRL and the Atlantic Cup… where the national team, the best player the USA has to offer… No there wasn’t and that was the most disappointing thing.

Even in the SMH article, he mentions David and Spinner but no mention of the great work and the Atlantic Cup, which was a great success in my eyes. I can tell you, I was there, if Russell turned up, the crowds would have been triple what they were each day. They would have easily broken 10,000 for the week. That is the power that Russell commands.

During the regular AMNRL season does Russell support any team? Does he go to any of the matches when he is in “town”? No he doesn’t. If he see the USA as the great hope and saviour then the ground work has to be done at the base and that is the AMNRL and USA International level. Get the public interested through there and then have them involved in a tournament from other nations.

What Would be the Solution?

So how can this be salvaged? The way I see it there are two solutions that could make Russell’s dream work. It would mean caving in by the NRL and ESL some, but the only way the sport is going to increase any profile in the world and Australia is for this to happen:

1. Cut Back the Season

Its simple, for Russel’s dream to happen will mean that the NRL and ESL will have to cut back their season by 4 weeks somewhere. It has to be done in the domestic season. The Integrity of the Internationals as the pinnacle of the sport has to be maintained, in fact increased. No domestic competition should be bigger or better than international competitions.

I have said for a while now, there actually is absolutely no reason why teams have to try and play each other twice. By 20 to 22 weeks it should be pretty clear which teams are the best in a competition. The NRL and ESL can be cut back to 22 weeks. Hell you can have it at 24 weeks and get rid of two of the pre season weeks. This at least will drag things back to within the window we have now without impacting too much on other tournaments like the Challenge Cup as well.

2. International Tournaments

If we really want the world to sit up and take notice of Rugby League it has to be done through International Tournaments. All other sports are spread this way, people will only get interested in something when “their own” are playing. Why would Americans want to watch Australian and British Teams? Why do the French care about Melbourne, particularly if they see no benefit for them? The only way is to have the national teams play. We have seen this year that the French are willing to come out in their great numbers again.

We also need to have the media come on board. Rather than poopooing the sport all the time, they should be coming on board demanding better exposure and elevation of the international game. Its a constant thorn in our side but look at Rugby Union. Why is it that their sport seems to still thrive and expand internationally, its because the International is still king. The clubs and domestic federations hold secondary power to the IRB. The same goes for Soccer, FIFA rules UEFA and CONCAF etc… they make sure that the International game is the pinnacle and even when Andorra looses to England 12-0 no one comes out dismissing the game and saying that they should not even bother. no its the opposite, they get elevated to being courageous for taking on the might of England. Remember when Portugal took on the All Blacks in the 2007 Union World Cup? They were plucky, courageous,

Conclusions

So just so summarise and conclude what i have said. When you break down Russell Crowe’s Las Vegas dream, it really does not do anything to help the sport over all internationally. Its there only to serve the NRL and ESL, and only because they are run pretty badly and need the money. Yeah its a money making venture only, promotion wise it won’t do much. It will make life difficult for players as they only get a very short off season.

The way to make this happen is to cut back the domestic seasons so that the International season integrity is kept, and if Russell is really serious he should pump his money not into Souths but into the AMNRL and get them professional, have them spread the word in America with Americans. Once you have that then you can fan out to the rest of the world.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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66 Responses to “Lets Calm the Hysteria.”

  1. Anthony says:

    I’m not sure of the 27 games(is that a typo Dan) in three weeks. I think it would work better as a Challenge Cup style comp.
    How I would have it
    NRL1 vs ESL4
    NRL2 vs ESL3
    ESL1 vs NRL4
    ESL2 vs NRL3

    That way it finishes in 3 weeks with sides only playing a maximum of 3 games. As you said wind the NRL and ESL back to 22 games and it could be doable

    • Anthony says:

      And hopefully that doesn’t effect the various international tourny’s.

      Also a side note if Rusty has an eye on his beloved Souths playing in this tournament, they have to get their first i.e finish top 4

      • druzik says:

        Thats is the problem, I think if we stay with the NRL and ESL season as it is and the pre-season games, then it can only eat into the internationals – which will do more damage than good.

        Rugby League will effectively become a one nation sport like NFL and AFL.

    • druzik says:

      Well if you have a 2 day turn around as some teams do (the Atlantic Cup) each team plays each other twice, semi final and final gives 27… but agree that is a high work load, and so probably typo in the SMH article.

  2. Anthony says:

    oh it get’s better NRL’s pushing for a Kiwi Origin Series (not sure how that’s going to work)

  3. juro says:

    If I was doing it, please just start with the current World Club Challenge – 1 game!

    Get a couple of AMNRL clubs (or even USA vs Canada or Jamaica) to play a game before or after the main game so the crowds would be more aware of the local comp.

    Get Rusty on board for that game, get the international media excited, and see what happens.

    If successful, you could possibly look at increasing to 2 teams from the ESL and NRL, but then you start running into the problems of fitting extra games in the calendar.

    The problem with shortening the NRL calendar is of course the fact that you are losing games which generate profits already. The new WCC would have to make enough to compensate that.

    Then you have the issue of having weeks where the AFL is played with no competition…

    • druzik says:

      Juro, all valid comments there. You are right about the AFL…

      What if it were played at the start of the seasons? when there are the pre season games? So the four NRL teams instaed of pre season games have the WCC instead?

      Or does this still cause the same issues as now?

      Personally though I think the focus needs to be on internationals, that is where you build up your international audience… not with domestic games.

    • Anthony says:

      The teams that make the WCC tourny would get compensated much like they do in the UEFA Champions League I’d imagine.

      The tams that miss out would get the to bad so sad.

      • druzik says:

        Well they would divvy out the profits, and the ARL/NRL and RFL would get the rest.

        Nothing would go into RLIF to help it along… and why should it, its not an international game.

        Hence the catch 22 that the whole things sits in.

        The more I think about it the more of a bad idea I think it is…. sorry to everyone that had high hopes for Russel’s idea.

      • Anthony says:

        Perhaps this would be a better idea

        1st year after World Cup 4 Nations in Europe ( Australia, New Zealand, England, European Qualifier)
        2nd year 4 Nations in Oceania(Australia, New Zealand, England, Pacific Qualifier)
        and then to really to throw the cat amongst the pidegons
        3rd 4 Nations in America (Australia, New Zealand, England, Atlantic Qualifier)

      • druzik says:

        No
        I have gone through this in the past…

        Year 0 – World Cup
        Year 1 – Regional Championship Qualifiers
        Year 2 – Regional Championship Finals, World Cup qualifiers
        Year 3 – 6 Nations (2 from Europe, 2 from Pacific 2 from a play of 3rd Euro and Pac and 1st Atlantic), a secondary 4 nations (loser of the play off , 4th Euro and Pac and 2nd Atlantic), World Cup Qualifiers
        Year 4 – World Cup

        Have Australia and NZ actually play in the Pacific cup, lets get these countries get some of the big games for once. Allow players to finally get to choose their country of birth where they get to play the best.

      • druzik says:

        I think I will need to resurrect these posts in some way again.

  4. Anthony says:

    The only way I could see it not effect Tonga, Samoa, Fiji etc. is if they put in a rule that states that the player doesn’t have to declare allegiance to the Kiwis to play in it.

    • druzik says:

      Can you see that happening though… if Australia does not have that rule, then I guarantee the NZRL would not have that rule either. It will decimate the player stocks of the other nations.

      • Anthony says:

        ah no

      • druzik says:

        lol… yeah exactly …

        Rugby league has really dug itself into a hole the last 30 years by allowing one country to dominate so much (I don’t mean on the field but off it).

        State of Origin is the big culprit I think…. it really needs to go in it current form.

  5. Ashley says:

    The entire structure of the sport needs sorted out basically everywhere in the world.

    Super league needs less games. When will they learn that you don’t need to play everyone twice. I find that very unnecessary in modern sport.

    League is so far behind. Ideas are at times feared.

    Mostly I would be in favour of a champions league type tournament if it involved the French and AMNRl if t becomes pro and any other teams from semi pro and pro leagues.

    The biggest structural change I’m in favour of though is more mid season internationals. When the NRL finishes fans tend to think the rugby league season is over so they barely notice the 4N.
    Let’s have mid season teats on stand alone weekends and let’s have England play Wales and France mid season in a tri series.

    I think the NRL going to a conference system could help to fit more tests in.

    If you look at union the six nations in Europe happens in spring about 2/3rds through the domestic season. It builds massive hype around union which then helps to keep momentum high fr the sport coming into the final stages of the heiniken cup and domestic league finals.

    • druzik says:

      Agree with all of that.

      League not so much fears ideas, its that they don’t stick with them. Example, this year they already are talking about scaling the 4 nations back to 3 nations for some reason.

      As I mentioned earlier, I agree that we don’t need to have everyone play each other twice, a 20-22 week comp is good, the Challenge cup should be played in a much more structured way too, one that doesn’t drag it out as much like now.

      The people would not forget about the 4 nations if it was actually promoted properly, promote it from the start of the NRL season rather than a week before it starts.

      As for the conferences, sure but how would you distribute the teams?

      Mid season test… yeah maybe, I am more in favour of a structured comp. Domestic -> SoO -> Internationals.

      • Ashley says:

        No origin in England though, so they could structure it with extra internationals.

        I guess it could be structure on having the biggest rivals in conferences so they play each other twice. Or by location. It’s a tough choice deciding who plays in which conference. Someone would just have to Bite the bullet and make a tough decision.

        But let’s say it 16 teams at the minute. Two 8 team conferences. You play twice agaiant same conference. That’s 14 games and once against the other conference that brings it to 22 rounds.

        Super leave defintely needs less games, they drag it out so long and the mid season just seems to be labored and at times the quality of rugby on show becomes very poor. However a conference system is probably a bit too amaerican for the English league fans.

  6. Matthew says:

    I don’t know where this discussion has got to, i read some of the replies. On the blog’s topic, alternatively you could play this expanded WCC in February. Make it go for three weeks from the 1st week in Feb to the 3rd week. During this time other teams not competing in this tournament in the NRL could play a knockout competition (or international 7’s or 9’s) with the losers from weeks 1 and 2 setting up trials with other losers for the week where the knockout competition runs. The 4th week in Feb and the 1st week in Mar can be given off for all teams. 2nd week in Mar could start the NRL season off and there we go, that plan does not impact the international or regular seasons. The only down side to this idea is the fact that it’ll be played in year after these teams have qualified for it. But that is the way it is now, and it goes alright.

    • druzik says:

      So you propose getting rid of the pre season matches then and replacing them with the expanded WCC and knock out?

      There already is an international 9’s played annually, none of the NRL clubs have been interested in playing in it.

  7. dragons4eva says:

    Very interesting post Druzik.

    I must admit i was caught up with all the hype before i looked at the facts. Yes i believe that sports fans (especially Americans) want a major reason to go and watch a game. When David Beckham came to Australia in 2007 with LA Galaxy the main reason was Beckham and Telstra Stadium was because of Becks. If Russel’s ‘idea’ was to work one of two things would need to happen.
    1. Russel or some big celebrities would have to attend the event
    2. USA team must be competing along with promotion of the AMNRL.

    That was instead of a short burst of sudden popularity it can help boost the profile of the game in the States.

    And with the Russel Crowe interview and Souths comment with only mentioning the NRL and not the AMNRL, Atlantic Cup etc i totally agree.

    Maybe introducing an international 9’s tournament with the USA competiting or a major international match with a USA team in it combined with celebrities with Crowe there could help boost the profile of Rugby League along with David Niu and Spinner Howland there.

    Anywayz just a thought.

    • druzik says:

      There certainly is scope for a 9’s event in the USA.

      I have talked about having a (s series like in Union in the past, using players that aren’t necessarily in the NRL or Kangaroos, but separate to that comp.

  8. Jim says:

    End of season just won’t work. I’d prefer to see it played pre-season and featue 4 clubs being the best UK, Aussie, NZ and French club. Play it in the US, I’m all for that but post-season just won’t work IMO, and personally if the Titans got a chance to play in Vegas I’d want time to organise a trip to Vegas aswell.

    • druzik says:

      That is a valid point Jim… the fans wont have much time to sort out trips out there etc…

      This could be just the ticket to replace the pre-season games?

      • dragons4eva says:

        Yeah exactly. Just like the NAB cup in the AFL…Rugby League could have the Telstra Cup? lol (I dunno something i came up with)
        Maybe the teams that qualify for the WCC in the NRL would be the top 4 (leaving 12 teams to play in some sort of knockout/pre season competition). It’s sort of a win/win situation for all clubs as the WCC teams get a special kind of competition to play in and so do the teams that miss out.

      • druzik says:

        Yeah that could work, pre season, also as Jim said, gives the fans about 3-4 months a chance to plan and book their trips.

  9. Cheyne Maher says:

    I pretty much agree with the general consensus that February is the only real time to do it, for m the reasons already stated above ie. It wouldn’t effect internationals, doubles as trial matches, fans have time to plan for it etc.

    It will essentially become a seperate competition in its own right, as opposed to a “super-bowl” between the two premiers. I think this is a good thing. I don’t ever see it becoming the pinnacle (winning a premiership will still be more highly sought after) but it will be a nice reward for the teams who come close eg. the likes of the Tigers and Roosters from this season. The winners will be known as World Club Champions, but it wont turn into the negative debate over who is neccessarilly the best side in the world, as often happens now after an ESL team beats the NRL premiers and how the timing/travel etc basically renders it useless as a true gauge of this. Basically it wont matter – the winner is World Club Champions, but it doesnt take away from the premiers of each comp.

    I don’t know why we neccessarilly have to wait to include teams from other competitions though. Perhaps the premiers from domestic competitions around the world could play a knock-out style of competition prior to the tournament, with the winner gaining the final place in the main tournament. This would provide a massive incentive for all RL playing nations. Any club who is deemed the best from that nation could apply to enter a seeded draw (perhaps similar to the Challenge Cup), first playing other domestic champions from their own region. Eventually you might end up with say one team from Africa, Middle East, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, South Pacific, Asia, North America and South America. These eight would then contest a knock-out in a single host location over a week to decide who enters the main WCC. I supose the biggest issue with this would be the timing as well, but as most domestic competitions (outside of the NRL and ESL) are generally a lot shorter, surely the intra – regional play-offs could fit in before the mid October, prior to the international season starting? Then the eight regional winners that i mentioned would meet in a host city (perhaps late November, early Dec. or it could even be played in the week leading up to the main WCC).

    Personally i would structure the main event with top 3 from NRL, top 3 from ESL, AMNRL premiers (THE HOST NATION MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE SIDE) and the eighth spot would go to the winner of the knockout tournament.

    I have typed this up pretty quickly as i go between jobs so hopefully it makes sense!

    • druzik says:

      Good points, its how its done with the Champions league and UEFA cup at the moment.

      You could have say the WCC as a 4 team comp, ESL and NRL and two spots come from a qualifying group in Europe/MidEast (France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Lebanon, Russian, Sebian) and from an Pacific/Atlantic section (USA, Sth Africa, Jmaicia, Canada (eventually) PNG, Fiji, NZ)

      That would be the “Champions League” equivalent and then have a UEFA Cup equivalent of a a secondary 4 team tournie, where the next 4 best teams play, 2 from one group and 2 from the other.

      Would that work?

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        Yeah that would also work. It is definitely a concept that should be explored. The workload on players is probably the biggest consideration with the original proposal (playing everyone in each group twice is probably excessive – with that format the two that make the final will have played 8 games over 3 weeks!)

        I had another thought last night and that would be to six teams (two from NRL, two from ESL and two others, either one qualifier and one going to the best team from the host nation, or as you suggested having two qualifying spots available). There would be two groups of three, with the winners of each group to play in the final. I think this would be a good compromise between a one off final as we have now, which fails to capture the RL publics imagination really and the eight games in three weeks proposal by Russell Crowe (at least to start with – if it really takes off then maybe it will become more significant to players and fans and could expand). But for now my proposal would involve a minimum of two games and a maximum of three over a 15 day period – which is a similar amount of footy played during a trial period.

        I would have at least two teams from both NRL and ESL as these are realistically going to be much more competitive games and with the schedule i propose it would build interest as the tournament progresses. Another side point is that the two teams from NRL/ESL don’t neccessarilly have to be from the GF, but we could look at how the A-League teams progress into the Asian Champions League. That is, the minor premiers get one spot and the eventual premiers get the other spot. This provides a nice reward for the minor premiers if they dont go on to win the title (as the Dragons did in 2009). If the minor premiers end up winning the GF (as the Dragons did in 2010) then the second spot would go to the team who lost the GF.

        So based on teams who would have qualified from this year

        GROUP ONE: St. George/Illawarra (NRL premiers), St Helens (ESL runners up – only qualify as Wigan were both minor and major premiers), Jacksonville (AMNRL premiers – automatic qualification as host nation)

        GROUP TWO: Wigan (ESL premiers), Sydney Roosters (NRL runners up – only qualify as the Dragons were both minor and major premiers), Yeah that would also work. It is definitely a concept that should be explored. The workload on players is probably the biggest consideration with the original proposal (playing everyone in each group twice is probably excessive – with that format the two that make the final will have played 8 games over 3 weeks!)

        I had another thought last night and that would be to six teams (two from NRL, two from ESL and two others, either one qualifier and one going to the best team from the host nation, or as you suggested having two qualifying spots available). There would be two groups of three, with the winners of each group to play in the final. I think this would be a good compromise between a one off final as we have now, which fails to capture the RL publics imagination really and the eight games in three weeks proposal by Russell Crowe (at least to start with – if it really takes off then maybe it will become more significant to players and fans and could expand). But for now my proposal would involve a minimum of two games and a maximum of three over a 15 day period – which is a similar amount of footy played during a trial period.

        I would have at least two teams from both NRL and ESL as these are realistically going to be much more competitive games and with the schedule i propose it would build interest as the tournament progresses. Another side point is that the two teams from NRL/ESL don’t neccessarilly have to be from the GF, but we could look at how the A-League teams progress into the Asian Champions League. That is, the minor premiers get one spot and the eventual premiers get the other spot. This provides a nice reward for the minor premiers if they dont go on to win the title (as the Dragons did in 2009). If the minor premiers end up winning the GF (as the Dragons did in 2010) then the second spot would go to the team who lost the GF.

        So based on teams who would have qualified from this year

        GROUP ONE: St. George/Illawarra (NRL premiers), St Helens (ESL runners up – only qualify as Wigan were both minor and major premiers), Jacksonville (AMNRL premiers – automatic qualification as host nation)

        GROUP TWO: Wigan (ESL premiers), Sydney Roosters (NRL runners up – only qualify as the Dragons were both minor and major premiers), Yeah that would also work. It is definitely a concept that should be explored. The workload on players is probably the biggest consideration with the original proposal (playing everyone in each group twice is probably excessive – with that format the two that make the final will have played 8 games over 3 weeks!)

        I had another thought last night and that would be to six teams (two from NRL, two from ESL and two others, either one qualifier and one going to the best team from the host nation, or as you suggested having two qualifying spots available). There would be two groups of three, with the winners of each group to play in the final. I think this would be a good compromise between a one off final as we have now, which fails to capture the RL publics imagination really and the eight games in three weeks proposal by Russell Crowe (at least to start with – if it really takes off then maybe it will become more significant to players and fans and could expand). But for now my proposal would involve a minimum of two games and a maximum of three over a 15 day period – which is a similar amount of footy played during a trial period.

        I would have at least two teams from both NRL and ESL as these are realistically going to be much more competitive games and with the schedule i propose it would build interest as the tournament progresses. Another side point is that the two teams from NRL/ESL don’t neccessarilly have to be from the GF, but we could look at how the A-League teams progress into the Asian Champions League. That is, the minor premiers get one spot and the eventual premiers get the other spot. This provides a nice reward for the minor premiers if they dont go on to win the title (as the Dragons did in 2009). If the minor premiers end up winning the GF (as the Dragons did in 2010) then the second spot would go to the team who lost the GF.

        So based on teams who would have qualified from this year

        GROUP ONE: St. George/Illawarra (NRL premiers), St Helens (ESL runners up – only qualify as Wigan were both minor and major premiers), Jacksonville (AMNRL premiers – automatic qualification as host nation)

        GROUP TWO: Wigan (ESL premiers), Sydney Roosters (NRL runners up – only qualify as the Dragons were both minor and major premiers), Lezignan (2009/10 France premiers and winners of worldwide club knockout)

        FRIDAY 18/2: St.George/Illawarra 42 v Jacksonville 10
        SATURDAY 19/2: Wigan 36 v Lezignan 4
        TUESDAY 22/2: St. Helens 40 – Jacksonville 12
        WEDNESDAY 23/2: Sydney Roosters 48 – Lezignan 12
        SATURDAY 26/2: St. George/Illawarra 20 -St.Helens 14
        SUNDAY: 27/2: Wigan 12 – Sydney Roosters 10
        STANDINGS: Group One (St.George/Illawarra 4, St.Helens 2, Jacksonville 0), Group Two (Wigan 4, Sydney Roosters 2, Lezignan 0)

        FRIDAY 4/3: WCC FINAL St.George/Illawarra 22 – Wigan 18

        ST.GEORGE/ILLAWARRA ARE WCC CHAMPIONS

        Ok so i know it is being pedantic, but i have included these dates and this schedule for several reasons.

        1) The premiers from both the NRL and ESL are split into seperate groups to allow them to potentially meet in the final.

        2) Each group has one NRL team, one ESL team and one other team each.

        3) There is a minimum four day break between matches and a maximum of eight days break for each team (quite similar to NRL).

        4) The host nations premiers play in the opening match of the tournament, allowing for a big crowd for the first game.

        5) As i said previously it is likely that the two NRL clubs and two ESL clubs are going to be head and shoulders above the others (at least at this stage). With the NRL clubs meeting the ESL clubs in the final matches before the final, it ensures there is not likely to be dead rubbers and that both teams have had the opportunity to play a match in the country and get used to the conditions before playing the match which will basically decide whether they make it through to the final or not.

        6)The NRL and ESL premiers have a slight advantage of having the eight day break between group games instead of a four day break that the other four teams have.

        7)The whole thing is done and dusted within 15 days and with a maximum of 3 games played.

        The only real change needed is that the ESL would need shorten and start later, closer to when the NRL starts (which from what i gather most English RL supporters believe this any way).

        One final thought – perhaps the two non NRL/ESL teams could be allowed to pick up one or two marquee players for this event. Recently retired players such as Wendell Sailor/Brett Kimmorley etc. This would help with the promotion of their games and the teams would benefit by having their experience to learn from. Just a side thought.

        Sorry, I know this is long winded – i just cant stop once i get started haha!!

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        MATE SORRY – I JUST REALISED I HAD COPIED AND PASTED HALF OF MY POST NOT ONCE BUT TWICE AT THE TOP OF IT – SO THAT REALLY LONG WINDED POST BECAME EVEN MORE LONG WINDED! SO IT DOESNT GET TOO CONFUSING TRYING TO READ BELOW I HAVE RE-PASTED IT (JUST ONCE) HERE!

        SORRY TO CLOG UP THE SITE DAN!!! Here it is again, so ignore the next one which is hard to follow.

        Yeah that would also work. It is definitely a concept that should be explored. The workload on players is probably the biggest consideration with the original proposal (playing everyone in each group twice is probably excessive – with that format the two that make the final will have played 8 games over 3 weeks!)

        I had another thought last night and that would be to six teams (two from NRL, two from ESL and two others, either one qualifier and one going to the best team from the host nation, or as you suggested having two qualifying spots available). There would be two groups of three, with the winners of each group to play in the final. I think this would be a good compromise between a one off final as we have now, which fails to capture the RL publics imagination really and the eight games in three weeks proposal by Russell Crowe (at least to start with – if it really takes off then maybe it will become more significant to players and fans and could expand). But for now my proposal would involve a minimum of two games and a maximum of three over a 15 day period – which is a similar amount of footy played during a trial period.

        I would have at least two teams from both NRL and ESL as these are realistically going to be much more competitive games and with the schedule i propose it would build interest as the tournament progresses. Another side point is that the two teams from NRL/ESL don’t neccessarilly have to be from the GF, but we could look at how the A-League teams progress into the Asian Champions League. That is, the minor premiers get one spot and the eventual premiers get the other spot. This provides a nice reward for the minor premiers if they dont go on to win the title (as the Dragons did in 2009). If the minor premiers end up winning the GF (as the Dragons did in 2010) then the second spot would go to the team who lost the GF.

        So based on teams who would have qualified from this year

        GROUP ONE: St. George/Illawarra (NRL premiers), St Helens (ESL runners up – only qualify as Wigan were both minor and major premiers), Jacksonville (AMNRL premiers – automatic qualification as host nation)

        GROUP TWO: Wigan (ESL premiers), Sydney Roosters (NRL runners up – only qualify as the Dragons were both minor and major premiers), Lezignan (2009/10 France premiers and winners of worldwide club knockout)

        FRIDAY 18/2: St.George/Illawarra 42 v Jacksonville 10
        SATURDAY 19/2: Wigan 36 v Lezignan 4
        TUESDAY 22/2: St. Helens 40 – Jacksonville 12
        WEDNESDAY 23/2: Sydney Roosters 48 – Lezignan 12
        SATURDAY 26/2: St. George/Illawarra 20 -St.Helens 14
        SUNDAY: 27/2: Wigan 12 – Sydney Roosters 10
        STANDINGS: Group One (St.George/Illawarra 4, St.Helens 2, Jacksonville 0), Group Two (Wigan 4, Sydney Roosters 2, Lezignan 0)

        FRIDAY 4/3: WCC FINAL St.George/Illawarra 22 – Wigan 18

        ST.GEORGE/ILLAWARRA ARE WCC CHAMPIONS

        Ok so i know it is being pedantic, but i have included these dates and this schedule for several reasons.

        1) The premiers from both the NRL and ESL are split into seperate groups to allow them to potentially meet in the final.

        2) Each group has one NRL team, one ESL team and one other team each.

        3) There is a minimum four day break between matches and a maximum of eight days break for each team (quite similar to NRL).

        4) The host nations premiers play in the opening match of the tournament, allowing for a big crowd for the first game.

        5) As i said previously it is likely that the two NRL clubs and two ESL clubs are going to be head and shoulders above the others (at least at this stage). With the NRL clubs meeting the ESL clubs in the final matches before the final, it ensures there is not likely to be dead rubbers and that both teams have had the opportunity to play a match in the country and get used to the conditions before playing the match which will basically decide whether they make it through to the final or not.

        6)The NRL and ESL premiers have a slight advantage of having the eight day break between group games instead of a four day break that the other four teams have.

        7)The whole thing is done and dusted within 15 days and with a maximum of 3 games played.

        The only real change needed is that the ESL would need shorten and start later, closer to when the NRL starts (which from what i gather most English RL supporters believe this any way).

        One final thought – perhaps the two non NRL/ESL teams could be allowed to pick up one or two marquee players for this event. Recently retired players such as Wendell Sailor/Brett Kimmorley etc. This would help with the promotion of their games and the teams would benefit by having their experience to learn from. Just a side thought.

        Sorry, I know this is long winded – i just cant stop once i get started haha!!

      • druzik says:

        That is a great and interesting post.

        I like how its been thought out… have to ponder over it, but on the face of it it could work.

        But one thing… did you have to bloody have St George win the damn thing! 🙁 lol

  10. Paulmac says:

    Just leave it as is Champion v champion in February in Las Vegas or Hawaii straight after the pro bowl, perhaps even rename it the World Bowl for the american market.

    • druzik says:

      Not sure naming it the World Bowl is good… it makes it too american.

      The ideal situation would be to take this on the road to several places, say America, Dubai, Barcelona, Tokyo etc… Maybe have one place in each continent where it can rotate over a 4/5 year period?

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        Haha, yeah I was going to have Wigan but then went with Saints as i figured Wayne Bennett wins most finals he coaches haha! I if i had my way it would be the mighty Eels, but i could be waiting a while yet for that unfortunately!

      • druzik says:

        What about Cronulla!

        Up tha Sharks.

        If Lezignan buy right they could upset someone.

  11. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Russell crowe should be the ambassador of rugby league because there’s no ambassador of rl here in nz at all and i haven’t heard of any ambassadors of the game elsewhere.We had sir richard hadlee in cricket here in nz.No such thing exists in rl and crowe is the greatest rugby league personality of all time.Crowe can sell our game unlike the officials who are all fycking useless.They couldn’t run a flea house.Crowe thinks big but the game continues to think small.He knows what he’s doing.Rl folk are only interested in their small little patches and can’t see the big picture.If nothing else we can still see crowe at the flicks.Cronulla to win the nrl cas they got a south islander in their team daniel.They are the true thoroughbreds of the game.All the sharks need now are a couple of real footballers that can break a game open. Another pip bishop and a another cliffie watson wouldn’t go amist either daniel.

    • druzik says:

      I just don’t see why we need to “Have To Have an embassdor”.

      And despite everything I am not sure Russell is the one, like I said in the article, he did nothing for trhe Atlantic Cup, if he was that passionate about Rugby league and not just the NRL then why didnt he go to Jacksonville or at least plug it on TV.

      I am not one to go and kiss people butts for the sake of it.

      Russell’s idea(s) have many flaws in them and I am yet to be convinced he has the game at heart in general.

  12. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well here in nz we got people who suck arse to the administration promoting themselves all the time with nothing to offer and pretending they are all there for the game which they aren’t and they still continue to pull the wool over peoples eyes.
    At least crowe is trying to showcase our game on the biggest stage and that’s america.Who else is doing it daniel?Spot the dog or spot’s old man pluto the dog or rodger brady the invisable man?
    We have seen how … 2004. At least crowe is a professional and be patient with him.And who is going to finance all this daniel?
    Crowe will open doors for rl where others won’t.

    • druzik says:

      Well, Crowe has had 14 years to jump on board with Rugby league in the USA now… why all of a sudden he wants to do something now? Why has he not been working with Niuy and the AMNRL. I am sure he could have helped seal the deal for the pro league with NBC.

  13. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Yes maybe, but who else is doing anything in america daniel?Watson and holchin from the warriors,the poms,the auckland rugby league with millions and millions of dollars in the bank,the arl and where’s sel and ivy bennett, people who told the whole world that they of all people invented rugby league in russia in 2002.No wonder edgard tatarium gets no credit at all for creating the game in russia in the first place yet he’s still around unlike semen sel and posionous ivy.
    Unlike the bennett’s and their hanger on mates Crowe has got the right image for the game and he’s a figurehead.If the top 4 nrl clubs are involved with say the top 4 sl sides in this concept,the tomahawks should come into it as a separate identity and perhaps two or three other countries such as france,png and canada could be added to the mix as well.The sky is the limit.Hence,it won’t take long for the yanks and others to close the gap if given the window of opportunity against professional teams that can play the game.If the tomahawks keep on playing mugs sides like the nz police or the combine services, teams that travel here there and everywhere with plenty of help from their mates in the corridors of power, they will never ever improve because it’s a waste of time.Those teams can’t even play the game and there’s even no guarantee that crowe’s beloved souths might make the cut at all in this proposed tournament.And again who’s going to pay for all this daniel?Pre-season games down under are a waste of time but at least a fijian domestic side are playing the newcastle knights earlier next year and full marks to them.We got to get our game in america as soon as possible at the highest level and the yanks have to play at the top level of the sport if we are ever going to make inroads.
    You are now a pioneer daniel and what i have seen, america have the people to play our game at the very highest level of the sport but the trouble is that our administrators haven’t got a glue of how to go about it and to make money out of it all.At least crowe has some idea unlike the others who wouldn’t know the time of day and again i ask you to be patient because crowe will deliver and mark my words it will happen.
    Small steps at a time.

    • druzik says:

      I just don’t see why there has to be one figure head.

      Russell has not given a stuff about the internationals so far and so for mine that does not make him a candidate.

      He hasn’t even turned up to any of the AMNRL games!

  14. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well it will happen sooner than later and tell me another nrl club that has ever gone to america?

    • druzik says:

      None… whats your point?

      You’ll see, Crowe will not become any “spokesman” of the sport in the USA. He will promote the NRL and Souths, its in his best Business interest to do so, but the AMNRL will not get any of it.

      Look at Soccer here with beckham, such pomp and fanfare and what… he has gone into obscurity here and crowds and the sport are no bigger that 5 years ago.

  15. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well crowe is talking about rugby league on american television and making people in that part of the world aware of the sport.Is watson and holchin from the nz warriors doing that?And what are the auckland rugby league doing about proping up rl in america.They sent a no hoper nz police side there 2 years ago and surprisingly it got prime tv coverage here in nz and i think they[the police] went there in 2006 as well.That’s the power of america and yet when i wanted the kiwis to go there in 2011 prior to the 4-nations in europe everyone continues to shout me down.
    People at auckland rugby league tell me that america is a waste of time.They are the ones who are a waste of time.

    • druzik says:

      Mate they are not aware of the sport.

      No one is talking about it, there was absolutely no mention on any of the major news networks or shows or wires about anything to do with Crowe or the NRL or Rugby league or souths.

      He would have done much better if on Leno he says, I will be at Hodges Stadium for the X vs. Y game on dd/mm/yy to watch and sign autographs. Then he sets up some media interviews for like 1/2 an hour where he done not plug a movie or anything just talks RL. That would have made a larger impact.

      The issue with taking NZ in 2011 is that as a one off match on their way to Europe makes no sense. They have a tight enough schedule to get there as it is and having a 3 day delay to get used to England is non-sensical. It would not help the American teams either since they are preparing for their tournaments and players would have to either choose to fly in for one or the other, as they can’t afford it.

      America certainly is not a waste of time, but it needs to be done properly, as everything needs to. Europe can be a bigger cash cow than the USA if done properly, same with ASIA, but the ground work and the right people have to be in place. Right now no where in the world are there the right people, not fully anyway.

  16. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well when the usa played australia in 2004 it was headlines all over the world and the same when russia played the usa at the olympic stadium in moscow in 2002
    Those 2 events put rl on the map.

    • druzik says:

      Seriously?!?!?!?!

      BS Chris… it hardly even made a ripple in Australia lert alone the USA and the rest of the world. Only 3000 turned out for that match and it made absolutely no ipmact on the growth of the sport in the USA, If it had the AMNRL would be fully pro by now and the Tomahawks competing in the 4 nations.

      And USA vs Russia made even less of an impact internationally… Chris, you need to put things in perspective here. Even today no one know the difference between League and Union in America, I sit down diligently with anyone willing to listen and I explain and show them the difference… league wins out every time, but that is how you make the in roads. Not with games that have no coverage what so ever!

      Seriously, in 2002 no one had any idea that Russia and USA were playing, I didn’t I can tell you that, and very few people I know stayed up to watch that Kangaroos USA game.

      I think you are letting ego get in the way here.

      Gosh, I love the International Game but even I am not that tunneled visioned and deluded into thinking that those two games put “League” on any map outside of where it already was.

  17. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well the usa v australia game got big reviews on primetime tv here in nz as well as the radio stations.The rugby union crowd were jealous and green with envy because rl went from a cinderalla sport to a super power sport in one hit.Now the rugby union crowd are laughing their tits off at the plight of the nsw cup.They think it’s a joke and i know the usa and australia drew only 3000 but what do the dorkland vulcans draw?
    In reuards to russia i don’t know where you were[probably swotting] but everyone was aware of the russia v usa game in moscow in 2002 at the olympic stadium.
    It was big news on radio and tv here as well as the papers.Even the rl week magazine featured an article on it and they only talk about the game in sydney
    In fact all the rugby union crowd were aware of the game as well.They thought it was frigtening that a crowd of 40,000 were going to go to the match was in their eyes mind boggling to say the least because kamaldinov put his money where his mouth was to make it happen in the first place.No one else made it happen and i give kamaldinov his dues.
    Keith quinn a veteran rugby union commentator went on record saying that it was the most significant world rl event of the year for 2002 but here people on the auckland rl board of control say the game is all about sydney which is top priority in their eyes.No wonder the game continues to stagnate.

    • druzik says:

      It didn’t go to a supre power sport, not globaly. Yeah OK it got some good reviews in NZ but globally it made no ripple.

      I am all for the sport getting bigger and better on TV… but be realistic.

      Chris you need to seriously think about what you say…

  18. C.T.SANDERS says:

    It would of done if the right people from New zealand went to russia in 2004 instead of the wankers that kamaldinov puts his faith in

    • druzik says:

      I am not sure it would have, Chris, again one country in one tour would not have destroyed another one… the Russian have had far more time to get things right than just 2004, and they haven’t.

  19. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well even if you and danny and others went to russia in 2004 you would of got a lot more out of it than those idiots from nz ever managed to do.They were total failures there but the troble isthat they won’t admit to their failures.

  20. C.T.SANDERS says:

    I have no ego at all daniel.It’s the rl officials and their hangers on mates with the ego problems daniel.I am only a modest man with hardly any mates after all rl is a mates game.Mates in high places.

  21. Q8T Kev says:

    I also live in NZ and in 2002/4 was also a league fan. I had no idea USA played Russia and only heard about the USA v Aus game about a week later when Rugby League Week came out and I believe that only got a little TV coverage because the Aussies were pushed.
    Everyone here laughed it off as the Kangaroos not taking it seriously and then having to pull their socks up to not be embarassed.
    Absolutley none of my Union mates even gave the game a mention except to joke how bad league must be if the top side in the world can get pushed by a bunch of reject gridion players.

  22. C.T.SANDERS says:

    So 20 teams are all capable of wining the rugby world cup next year?And you obviously know very little about rl as well.

  23. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well wee wippee.It’s my mate ryan. …

  24. Q8T Kev says:

    Where did I say all 20 teams have a chance at next years Union World Cup???
    I would say my knowledge of international Rugby League is at the higher end of the spectrum as a fan in NZ. I don’t have bitter hatred of administrators like you seem to and have no wish to learn more of that side.
    I just love the game and want it to grow internationally but also understand this is the real world, it’s a minor sport world wide, and progress will be slow.

    Even now with the Kiwi’s being on top of the world you would expect league to be riding high in NZ, but the average punter didn’t even realise the 4 nations final was on a few weeks ago.

    An All Black winger who only played half the tests this year was voted Maori sports person of the year (sure Benji won it last year, but this year he was voted best player in the world, surely that is more impressive than Hosea Gear running round some sluggish poms).

    Daniel has done a superb job with this website and his promotion of international rugby league and always in a positive ‘realistic’ manner. Perhaps you need to stop going on about your hatred of the current administration and try a different topic as you obviously have a lot of knowledge on the game that we would find interesting.

  25. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Kev it won’t grow if you got the wrong people in the corridors of power milking the system for all its worth.Simple.

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