Reports this week from Steve Mascord have the English Coach, Steve McNamara, upset about having to stay home this year and not tour Australia and New Zealand because of the NRLs RLPA saying that players need to be rested so they don’t burn out for next year, (Steve’s story here). However, I myself feel that this can be a unique opportunity for International Rugby League. Why doesn’t England tour some of the other nations that are in the World Cup and also some of the developing nations?
Why would it be so bad for the English to tour Canada, the USA and Jamaica, as an example. It gives those nations an opportunity to use one of the main players in Rugby League to do some great promotion and potentially bring sponsors on board. Canadian Rugby league has a TV agreement already with the CBC, and what a great game to show and promote the hell out of id you can get last years 4 nations finalists and where the game originated out for a 2 game series.
Similar with the AMNRL, use this to try and promote the Tomahawks team, say it is a potential world cup semi final show down or something, with both teams in the world cup, really to drum up some media and drive the sponsors. with Hawaii already getting 2 or 3 internationals this year, Philadelphia also getting one, why not have a game in New York and then promote it through an expansion region like Chicago or California somewhere, have the local league teams out there drive the promotion and be able to take a chunk of any profits to help develop them. Certainly I think the Tomahawks will get a lot more out of this than playing Japan and severely weakened Tongan and Cook Island teams.
Jamaica, are always desperate for games, there have been no international matches involving full national teams in Jamaica itself. It would be great to get a high profile team like that in there to help the sport out, particularly since the guys like Romeo Monteith and Dane Campbell have been doing so much to help the sport along there. Having an England team tour could be a real kick for the JRLA and the local economy and also imagine this, bring back what it means to have grassroots rugby league and see what developing nations go through for the players and staff. I think most of our NRL and ESL stars lack the perspective about our game.
No I know what people will say, oh, but the scores will be blow outs etc… this and that. maybe, but as I always have said, lets not be scared of that. Blow out scores happen in all sport at all levels, deal with it. It can give Steve McNamara an opportunity to test some of his fringe players with internationals. Imagine if you have both the England and the English Knights squads, where for every game you have half-half playing, it allows them to develop different combinations, so if injuries at major tournaments happen you have players that already have played together at the international level. However the greatest asset is that these players can become a real asset and ambassadors for the sport and start to forge closer links once again and is you get one major nation doing these kinds of tours, then you might, just might get some more doing the same.
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