The Case Against Tours

By Daniel Andruczyk

One of the debates that has come out of recently is that there aren’t any tours in Rugby League any more. The last Ashes tour was in 2003 when Australia went to the UK. But in hind sight I think this is not a bad thing. In fact not having tours ultimately is the best thing that can happen to Rugby League if it wants to truly expand internationally.

Big 4 tours

In the past tours were performed by only the big four nations: Australia, Great Britain, France and New Zealand. These nations were the ones that had the money to travel and  historically have had rivalries in many other sports, thus made sense for them to play each other. It was convenient with two southern hemisphere and two northern hemisphere teams, so a tour every 2 years allowed two nations to be toured. So Australia would go and play Great Britain and France. In the return tour Great Britain would play Australia and New Zealand. Made sense.

France tried to boost the international game by getting the Italians involved in the 1950’s and 60’s, but with little interest from other nations to go there then the sport quickly collapsed and clubs switched over to Rugby Union. Similarly the USA and South Africa also in the 1950’s had a go at the sport but once again no interest from the established nations saw the sport get no where.

In the last 20-30 years other nations have stepped up to the plate, but not having the money to tour are forced to play one off games and set up their own tournaments. What this creates in reality is the haves and have nots in Rugby League. These days there are only 3 nations that could hold any sort of tour. Australia in recent times when they toured the UK would then have a one off match against the French.

Now, if there still was only 4 nations that play Rugby League, then there would be no problems with having tours, they would be easy to have home and away series once every four years as it used to be. However, with all the nations that play now and say the top 12 nations, if they were all to tour each other then we would end up in a similar situation to cricket where the domestic seasons suffer and national teams will tour all year round.

But the argument has been that Australia New Zealand and England should tour, so while these three nations would tour make money all the other nations would fall by the wayside once again not getting any quality games against the best nations and players. This would further drive the wedge of player defection from the New World Nations to the top three as we have seen now with Akuila Uate’s wanting to swap to Australia. With three or four nations only playing then naturally players want to jump ship.

RLIF Control

If you only have 3 or 4 nations that are touring and hoarding the majority of players then they will insist on having the control in the RLIF, hence we have the situation now. There is a conflict of interest existing within the RLIF because of the fact that only 3 Nations are “allowed” to play the big games. This certainly is a hangover from the day of touring but these days with the Pacific Nations and Home nations starting to gain more and more popularity then members from them need to have a greater say. In the end there needs to be independence in the RLIF, the people at the top cannot also be in positions of power in any other nations governing federations.

One Offs

Some argue that Rugby Union is able to still have tours then why cannot Rugby League do it? I would say that if you look in depth, Union is not really expanding beyond its core of 10 nations. Any team outside of the old guard don’t get a look in outside of the World Cup. This creates a culture of haves and have nots. Only the 10 nations get the major tours and everyone else get the scraps.

Many of the “tours” are one off games against nations as well, and if this is the case then why not just have a tournament where there are incentives, like trophies and qualification into the World Cup? This is exactly what I propose for Rugby League. Rather than get bogged down in expensive tours, lets have tournaments. Teams rather than having to go to 2 or 3 countries all go to one place and play against several of the best nations, and every one can reap the monetary benefits of the tournament.

Tournaments

Soccer I think has the best overall structure for an international game. There all teams have the opportunity to play and participate, from the qualifiers  though to the finals, in regional, cross continental and international tournaments. Examples are the European Cup, Asian Cup, The Confederations Cup and World Cup. The sport still spreads its feelers to new countries, where they get opportunities to play against better countries. This also shows players from those countries that they have the opportunity to represent their country in meaningful games, that they don’t have to go to one of New Zealand, Australia or England to get a “meaningful game”.

Plus wouldn’t it be great if a team can come out and say that we are the regional champions, the inter continental champions and world champions in a 4 year period? Certainly would give fans and players more ammunition to talk about around the cooler on a Monday morning!

Money

At the moment, the International game is completely dependent on the money produced from one tournaments, the World Cup. The 2008 World Cup made a supposed $5 million profit and its meant to be a “War chest” for the next 5 years, till the next World Cup. Now Does anyone else see the problem with that?

That kind of money will not buy you much. The Pacific Cup in 2009 cost over $1 million alone. Supposedly countries are meant to get some of that money as well, but so far we have had no word of which countries will get it. Would it not makes sense that the RLIF and any individual regional Federation, such as the RLEF, would work to make profits for each tournaments, work to get the sponsors. This would mean a campaign that is not just one month or one year in the making, but many years in the making. Is it not better to have $5 million a year to spend on team than $5 million over 4/5 years?

But what would bring in that money, where is that money? Well the greatest assets that we have are the top 3 teams. Australia, England and New Zealand should be competing in the regional tournaments like the Pacific Cup and European Cup. On top of that make those tournaments be worth something, have them be a stepping stone to World Cup qualifications. This does 3 things:

  1. It gives the smaller nations the opportunity that many of their players want, a chance to play against the best players, It gives their players and teams more opportunities to observe and learn how the top teams do things, not just one every four years, but almost every year.
  2. Gives all nations in those regions incentive to participate in the tournaments as each games takes on the importance that it is a world cup qualifier effectively.
  3. The players swaps that are plaguing Rugby League would stop, since the players now would have the incentive to stick with their original, native teams, where they don’t have to give up their nations just to look at playing for Australia or State of Origin to get a good game… they get the chance to play the best on a consistent basis now.

Once again for this to happen will mean that a consistent, relevant set of International tournaments will need to be established. This would not work with tours. If you have only tours, particularly with only 3-4 nations then all the money stays within those countries. The International Federations and International game would not benefit. Games are kept only within those countries, money that Say England or Australia make in those tours would stay only in those countries, I mean why would Australia and England give money from their games and tours to say Serbia or Russia or the USA? Also if all the major games get centralised around only a few nations, then any players from other smaller nations will always jump ship to try and get into those countries to earn more of a crust.

Summary

One thing is for sure, if rugby league wants to move forward around the world it needs to be more inclusive of all nations that play it, give them all a chance to play the best. The only way that will happen is with tournaments and not tours.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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22 Responses to “The Case Against Tours”

  1. C.T.SANDERS says:

    The 2003 ashes tour didn’t count as a tour in my book.The last proper tour was in 1994 to the uk and france and the last proper tour down under was in 1992 to png,australia and nz.
    They [tours] are indeed a thing of the past.You are right there daniel because the poms don’t want them at any cost.I have suddenly seen through them because it’s all about looking after the self interests of the owners of all the sl franchises.That’s why the british and irish lions in rugby union are jumping on the band waggon and promoting a lions tour to hong kong and australia in 2013 which will make millions and millions for their game while rl will still continue to flounder.
    If we still got the same adminisrators in the corridors of power nothing will ever change and rl will always remain a cinderalla sport.
    Crowe is the only one with any ability to do something different for our sport.

    • druzik says:

      Hahaha…. good laugh Chris, yes you go and pick and chose… like you bag others for doing so… rule for one and another rule for other in your books yes? 2003 was an official Ashes tour. Deal with it.

      Hong gates played because the ARU and other federations are broke and need to get money in. They have sponsors leaving and no fans showing up to cover all the freebies they dish out every year.

      Crowe… Chris… will be no different to anyone in there at the moment… His colours are out and they are Red and green. Nothing more.

  2. C.T.SANDERS says:

    It wasn’t a conventional tour at all.Where were the club games and mid-week fixtures?It was bollocks.
    Crowe is trying to do something for the game in reguards to america irrespective of whether it’s souths or a mickey mouse team.
    Over the years we have had plenty of mickeymouse sides like the nz police and the nz combine services trying to push the gospel of league into new horizons like the usa and russia.
    What returns did the game get out of all of that.None
    And what are Watson and hotchin doing in reguard to spreading the game?I see that they are making all the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
    Isn’t that a great image for the game.

    • druzik says:

      Mid week club fixtures are pointless… they were right not to play them. Quite your whining, it was a tour, full stop.

      Crowe is doing sweet FA for the game in the USA.

      OK, how much of an impact is that making though… nothing is heard anywhere else… not many keep track of the nz herald.

      Also if games or tours are not promoted then they will have no impact… simple. Things wont happen just because a team does something. It needs backing and promotion.

  3. KeighleyWeb says:

    Going back to the second message, as a “POM” I, and I think 99% of other “POMS” would love the old style tours back, having Wigan or Saints or Leeds play against Australia or New Zealand, just magic. It also gave the Great Britain team more warm up games before taking on Australia in Australia, Im not too sure but I bet GB had a better win rate back in in the old style tour days than in the now normal nation vs nation games.

    But…

    I love the tourniments we have now, the euro comps, Atlantic Cup, Pacific Cup and the four nations.

    The answer is a mix of the two but how the hell can that happen? What I would love is teams travelling to the four nations, stopping off in developing nations on their way/on their way back, like Australia did with the USA a few years back. Have Australia play South Africa next year as a warm up and New Zealand Play the USA before the four nations and on their way home swop so Australia play the USA and New Zealand play South Africa.

    Make sense to me.

    • druzik says:

      I think I have the answer… I did have the solution waaaay back in the first ever blogs I did, but I think I will need to re-hash them, sumurise them as you will and maybe a tour can be done as well as the tournaments.

      I really don’t see the point of clubs playing National teams though… not these days with the way professionals are playing and the structure of things. In the old days you could have 2-3 games in a week as you had 40 players touring right, not its a 20 man squad, the players need a weeks recovery and you wont have them on tour for 3 months. Its 6-8 weeks in and out. Players barely have an off season these days, only 3 weeks I think.

      In a time when many are calling for less games for the players due to burn out worries, a tour would just kill any of that.

      The other thing is that tours, in the over all context of expanding the game do nothing. All id does is concentrate the playing stock, administration power and money in only3 or 4 teams and that’s it. Realistically there are only 4 nations that can do any sort of tours… and that is the traditional 4… and one of them these days can be argues will struggle even with that.

  4. PNG says:

    I loved the old tours aswell but I don’t think they could do as much good as tournaments as far as 1.getting players to stick with there nations of heritage 2.developing the skills of players and national teams of emerging nations . I would love to see australia an new zealand compete in the pacific nations cup would also like to see england compete in the european cup we could then have the top three placed nations from each tournament compete in a 7 nations tournament the following year with the remaining spot to be filled by the winner of the atlantic cup the nations that didn’t qualify could play a emerging nations tournament to be hosted in one of the emerging nations countries . the top four placed teams from the seven nations would qualify for the world cup and are to be seeded seperatley at the top of four pools .To me that would be two years of international tournaments world cup qualifiers to be played the third year fourth year world cup then start the cycle all over again all nations are getting to compete reguraly with the added incentive of gaining entry into a high profile tournament like the seven nations with the chance of qualifying to the world cup a year earlier than evryone else or gaining valuable experince on there path to qualify for the world cup

  5. C.T.SANDERS says:

    How much did it cost for the 2009 pacfic cup to be stage in png.Tournaments do not make money for the game.All the kangaroos tours up to 1994 made big money for the game and i do appreciate they are a thing of the past daniel.You win the argument.
    If Crowe is doing fa what is colin love,david gallop,geoff carr,john mcdonald,scott carter,ray haffenden,richard lewis and dave woods doing for the game in america?
    FA.

    • PNG says:

      I don’t know how much the tournament cost but with all the games being played in front of large crowds and every match the kumuls played in being a sell out crowd and the final being a sell out aswell I can’t see how it could of generated a loss financialy I do remember reading on a png newspaper web site that the tournament had made a profit not sure how much have tried searching the web today but couldn’t find anything on how much the tournament had made money wise but every site I went to mentioned how the tournament was a great succes

    • deluded pom? says:

      Did the GB tours of Australia always make money or was it just us Poms who coughed up? You know the Poms who don’t want international expansion. Run along C.T. you’re just a racist who hates Poms. Are you Gould in disguise?

  6. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Good png and it’s criminal that no auckland or new zealand resident side has ever gone to png in recent times considering your country is the temple of our game.
    In 1978 the otahuhu club from auckland went to png and played before huge crowds and there is a beautiful painting in their clubrooms illustrating indeed how colourful that tour was.
    In 1982 the immortal ces mountford took a kiwi side to your beautiful country and played png in 2 official test matches symbolising the birth of your country as a test nation, but i stand corrected, because i believed png played france at port moresby in 1977 where the french lost and png may of played the poms in 1979 again in port moresby and i am not sure if france went there in 1981?Perhaps you know better because i am only going from memory png.None the less our players are always treated as the kings of rugby league when ever we go to the emerald islands of png.
    When i become boss of auckland rugby league we will be going to png regular because i am pulling the vulcans out of the nsw cup.
    If watson and hotchin want a warrior reserve grade side they have pay for it themselves because the clubs of auckland have been ripped off.
    We see more value in png and the whole world instead of only a small pocket of nsw.

  7. C.T.SANDERS says:

    No one stuck up for the poms more than me in the 70’s,80’s and 90’s and got in the shit for it and i can’t help it if you people have got idiots runing your game or know nothing about the game and blame them.
    No one praises god more than me and that’s the one and only alexander james murphy.What do you want me to talk about widnes,widnes and widnes until we get it morning,noon and night like we do on total rugby league.com.
    Gould has been brillant for the game deluded pom and no wonder you are in a deluded state.
    Time for the poms to shape up and deliver the goods for a change and stop making excuses.The pommie tours down under all made money except for the dad’s army tour of 1979 and the the diastrous tour of nz in 1996 which was a disaster waiting to happen.
    Merry Xmas deluded pom and use your real name for a change.

    • deluded pom? says:

      Oooh, are NZ on the up? It’s a pity it took you so long to finally arrive. Idiots run RL full stop. It doesn’t matter what country they are from. Merry Christmas C.T. Keep frying the chicken.

  8. C.T.SANDERS says:


    There are less than 10,0000 players in the country but the only reason we won the 2008 world cup and this years 4-nations is that australia has got progressively worse over the years because their administrators are useless as well.It’s not like that we have improved and if the poms had the likes of boston,mctigue,huddart,ashurst,murphy,karalius,reilly,valentine, prescott they would of killed the aussies and the kiwis on the same night.

  9. C.T.SANDERS says:

    !0,000 people playing our game in nz deluded pom and how many people in the uk play rl?I made a mistake.

  10. deluded pom? says:

    The numbers might be smaller but I bet the quality of the coaching is far better in NZ especially at junior level. Plus you have the added advantage of having plenty of NZ qualified players scattered across every team in the NRL. Didn’t England beat NZ in the 2009 4N to reach the final? We can’t be as black as we are painted can we?

  11. C.T.SANDERS says:

    The coaching here in nz is bad deluded pom.Speak to bud lisle about it who’s a friend of graham west who use to coach at wigan and go and watch auckland fox memorial football on maotri tv.
    It’s shit and even the national division 1 and 2 and the conference in england is far better and that’s not much good as well.
    The standard of coaching here in nz is the worst in living memory and the great coaches of past like ces mountford,morrie robertson,alan marshall and boff sorenson will all be rolling over in their graves if they saw that crap.
    Yes you won fair and square but blame the coaches for our loss because it was their fault.They didn’t rotate the players properly when we played france the week before in france and playing tonga in a warm up game at rotorua put us on the backfoot before the tournamet begun.
    That game was a waste of time because australia arrived earlier in the uk than we did and were far better acclimatised.
    Once more our administrators didn’t know what the hell they are doing because they don’t know anything about the game.
    There are approximately 75,000 nz born players playing in all grades throughout australia.

    • druzik says:

      What the hell… seriously, you speak some rubbish sometimes.

      If Coaching was that bad you would not have won the 4 nations this year… teams have ups and down, dela with it. New Zealand did well in that they drew with the Kangaroos, England could not beat them once even!

      Chris… your eyes are too tainted to the Kiwis and Russia to really have any real objective comments on the international game… that much is clear now.

  12. C.T.SANDERS says:

    The local coaches haven’t got a glue in reguards to coaching in the domestic game.Have a look at the local game on maori tv.IT’s crap and no wonder the rugby union crowd are laughing themselves hoarse.When experts like bud lisle says that the standard of coaching here in nz is the worst in living memory people have got to sit up and take notice.
    Bud lisle is approaching 80 and has been in rugby league since 1935 and is the best administrator in world rugby league.No one has his knowledge or experience especially in reguards to coaching and establishing the game in new horizons.He founded the university rl world cup here in 1986 along with john haynes.
    This year he raised over 450,000 dollars for his club here in south auckland{papakura] and he didn’t rely on hand outs from pockie machine monies either like all the rest do.He got it through share hard work while the rest in his club sat around and drunk piss and talk about a one man band.
    I was not talking nrl or sl because how many from the kiwis are picked from within.None.The standard of rugby league here is terrible and the coaching structures and style leaves a lot to be desired.
    So what that we won the 4-nations.Big deal.Look at the quality of the domestic game because the coaches here couldn’t coach a good feed.Here it’s football with the dump.Absolute crap.
    Apart fom maybe one or two i wouldn’t give the rest of the coaches the dole.
    And in reguards to the international game daniel,if you still got the same crowd there, nothing will ever change.At least i have a go at the administrators on this site unlike others who suck arse to them.

  13. dragons4eva says:

    I don’t mind tours as long as they’re used in the right manner.
    For example, the BARLA have a team called the “Pioneers” who go to new places and basically do what their name says which is “opening up” new areas to Rugby League. If they do those sort of tours i don’t mind.
    But the tours conducted in Union and the old GB ashes tours not really. I think tours should be ONLY for trying to open new areas to Rugby league such as the pioneers idea…that’s all!

  14. C.T.SANDERS says:

    When i become the boss of auckland rugby league in 2 years time dragons4 eva i will scrap the vulcans[hopefully the warriors will be gone by then]we will be touring the globe regularly because the arl has got plenty of money.
    I will have the auckland fox rep team,the auckland phelan shield rep team,the auckland stormont shield reps,the auckland senior b reps,the auckland under 85 kilogram reps and the women’s representative team touring the world regular and we will be trying to open up new horizons as well along the way.
    No need to tour sydney every year like the arl do now because that lot aren’t spreading the game.
    As far as ashes tours are concerned,if the poms want to do it half-pied they can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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