A Rare Opportunity

By Daniel Andruczyk

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.

 

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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40 Responses to “A Rare Opportunity”

  1. David Felstead says:

    Fantastic perspective. I certainly think the England Knights should become more of a touring team for developing nations.

    Has the English schedule been finialised yet?

  2. Chris Sanders says:

    The Poms only got themselves to blame for all of this and I for one have no sympathy for them!
    I don’t care if I ever see another GB Lions tour ever again and I say either do it properly or not at all!
    We are only going over old ground now and the turf is well wore out and tours are a thing of the past as you said a long while ago Daniel.
    We can’t help the Poms because they don’t want to help themselves and why should we have tours when it only just suits them!
    Good on the ARLC for putting the Poms in their place!!

    • druzik says:

      Why are they to blame, they wanted to have a tournament and matches … but its been the RLPA that is putting a stop to Australian and NZ players from playing…. Its not the fault of the English, they are willing to play.

  3. roml357 says:

    Ya wont happen Dan, be great if it did. I wonder who they are going to bring in to replace cook islands if they become a no show in the 4 nations this year.

    • druzik says:

      Well, the Cook Is I think have been told not to bother coming anyway, not sure if the 4 nations will go ahead or they will have another team come in. Personally I would bring the PNG team in.

      • Greg Cross says:

        Agreed,they should bring PNG in.I feel that they will improve with more International Footy.I feel sorry for the Cook Islands after the New Zealand Rugby League left them high and dry last year.

      • druzik says:

        Oh the CI were completely screwed over… NZ definitely could field a test team to sent there, even if not the 1st string there are enough players to play against the locals to have made it worth it for them and it would have helped the economy. I remember reading that the cancellation of that game cost about $250,000 in the boost to the local economy.

  4. Greg Cross says:

    Agreed.The International body should have forced them to play.This was a ridiculous decision.It would have been a real opportunity to give some up and coming New Zealand players a game.

  5. Chris Sanders says:

    If that’s indeed the case of NZ screwing over the Cooks last year,then why is Scott Carter heading the RLIF when NZ gives the International Game lip service??

  6. Chris Sanders says:

    Yeah bring PNG in Daniel for the 4 Nations!Great idea and with the French scoring that huge TV deal it now makes sense to expand the 4 Nations to 6 in 2014!

    • druzik says:

      That TV deal is just for the French Rugby League, it does not lead into any internationals… unfortunately.

      I am all for it expanding to 6 nations, however it needs to be done sensibly and not just at random.

  7. Chris Sanders says:

    What about the rumour of the RLIF wanting to go back to a Tri-Nations concept in 2014??

  8. Chris Sanders says:

    And what about the other rumour I heard Daniel,that according to our great friend David Gallop,the man that they all idiolise as God on International Rugby League-Scores,Updates and News FB,Rugby Legaue Planet FB and the Forums on Rugby League Planet,State of Orgin and International Rugby League games will be sold as separate packages from NRL and SL games!!And where are the proceeds going to go to?To prop up NRL and SL Clubs??
    I got this information on Everything in Rugby League FB.

    • druzik says:

      I have heard this touted some. Weather Gallop has anything to do with this I don;t know. But Yes I heard that International Tournaments will be sold separately with the money going to funding the RLIF and International Rugby League.

      Will this happen I do not know.

  9. Chris Sanders says:

    That’s the $64,000 question?Gallop is the Secretary of the RLIF and he’s controlling the whole game to suit the NRL and the NSWRL!
    As sure as eggs!

  10. Chris Sanders says:

    His role is to look after the interests of the NRL Clubs especially the ones in Sydney and to hell with the International Game!

  11. Chris Sanders says:

    So why is he there??

    • druzik says:

      Chris, why are any of the “RLIF” people there.

      They shouldn’t be since its a conflict of interest, however its the way its been set up and hopefully it will change soon enough.

      You latching onto this is not going to achieve anything.

  12. Cheyne Maher says:

    Great idea Dan, i love the thought of England touring USA and Jamaica – would be massive! I don’t know that i would play a test team for half a game and knights side for half, give it “international/test” status and which players the poms decide to play (strongest or fringe) doesn’t really matter (whatever they feel would suit themselves best). But either way great thinking, we can only imagine the possibilities.

    With expanding the four nations to six i agree, but as you have mentioned before any major tournament needs to make money. I reckon the following format could work really well – and even better than a four nations – read on for the benefits this structure has over others.

    TIER ONE: Aus, NZ, Eng

    TIER TWO: France, Pacific qualifier (eg PNG), European qualifier (EG Wales).

    Each team plays the two teams from within their own tier and one other from the other tier (similar to the 2013 format where teams in pool c and d will cross over for one game – only difference is the table is combined). The top four would playoff in a 6N semi final with the winners to meet in the final.

    SIMULATED EXAMPLE

    ROUND ONE: AUSTRALIA 27 def New Zealand 20, ENGLAND 40 – Wales 6, France 28 – PNG 16

    ROUND TWO: Australia 32 – England 14, New Zealand 28 – France 6, PNG 12 – Wales 10

    ROUND THREE: Australia 42 – PNG 20, England 24 – New Zealand 12, France 28 – Wales 22

    TABLE: Australia 6 (+47), England 4 (+28), France 4 (-4), New Zealand 2 (+3), PNG 2 (-32), Wales 0 (-42)

    Semis Aus 22 – NZ 14, Eng 28 – France 12

    Final Aus 30 – Eng 16.

    Ok so i think this is a big improvement on the 4N.

    1) Obviously two more nations get that top level exposure.

    2) The “second” tier nations will not just be getting whipped for three weeks straight. They will enjoy one opportunity to play against one of the big 3 but don’t have to face all three consecutively. It is easier to lift for once and give one of the big 3 a really genuine run for their money, but is unrealisitc to think at this point in time they could be really competitive three weeks in a row (think PNG V ENG in WC 2008, France in 2009 4 nations).

    3) CREATES HOPE AMONG ALL FANS: The second tier nations will have a genuine belief they can win some games (most likely against each other) during the tournament. This mixes opportunity of playing the big guns, with more realistic hope for the fans of seeing their team win games (which is important).

    4)UNPREDICTABILITY: There is less likely to be dead rubbers. As in the 2010 four nations the final round (aus v nz and png v eng) had no bearing on the competition. This is unlikely to happen. With the big three teams playing two tier one oppositions it is quite likely one of them will only win one pool game – this may not be enough to qualify for the finals, although as is the case with my eg (i tried to make the scores sound realistic) they should still sneak through on for and against. This makes every point in every game crucial. Potentially one of the big 3 may miss the semis which wouldn’t be entirely bad.

    5)I think this would make money. Having France as an automatic inclusion (along with the big 3), means you have two nations in each hemisphere capable of pulling decent crowds consistently. Double headers may still be used too. Some may say France being given automatic inclusion is unfair on others, but historically they are the only other nation to have been in every wc so i think it is ok as they are part of the foundation of the international game.

    There would need to be qualification methods worked out, perhaps it wouldn’t neccessarilly be a qualifier from each sphere. There may be a four to six nations plate for the next tier of teams, with the winner to replace the lowest ranked of the two who don’t automatically qualify.

    Eventually you could possibly remove the automatic qualification of the big 3 and france and long term could remove the tiered system, but that is some way down the track.

    What do you think mate? Hopefully i have expplained my thoughts clearly enough, although it is a bit rushed lol

  13. Cheyne Maher says:

    I had a read last night after posting this, very thorough and what i like most is you have worked out revenue needed etc.

    I remember reading your original proposal some time ago and it seems this one is tweaked slightly (in the past i think only two of four fed shield teams went directly into WC – but i like this newer format better where all fed shield teams go through (makes sense as they are the best from their region) with the RLIF CUP and fed shield counting for their “seeding” in a world cup

    • druzik says:

      Yes, originally it was going to be a 12 team World cup, but now I think we have enough teams playing to justify 16 teams, and I feel the way i have done it is logical.

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        Thats right, yeah i agree we definitely have enough to justify 16 from 2017, even looking at this wc you have the likes of Lebanon and Jamaica who missed out and by the next one Serbia, Russia, Germany, South Africa, Canada and possibly some of the Asian nations will be quite strong and be capable of challenging for a WC spot in a 16 team tournament.

        Your proposal provides opportunity for every nation. Looking at your WC Qualifiers, personally i would maybe change the second phase of them. MENA and Atlantic already have one automatic spot (the regional tournament winners), so i would have their next highest qualifier play off in a repercharge against the 7th best euro and 7th best pacific (i say 7th as four from each region go through to the rlif cup and fed shield and another two from each go straight through to wc from qualifiers).

        I say this because when i did a bit of a simulated eg in my head (based on current rankings in each region), the likes of Cook Is. miss out, while Jamaica and the second best MENA team, perhaps say Saudia Arabia/Morocco were in. A playoff would fix that.

        I still think that the use of “tiers” in major tournaments is beneficial too at this point. The 14 team wc we have now could expand to 16 but still have 3 teams from pool a and b and only one team from pool c and d progress to the quarters. The six nations/rlif cup could run as i suggested above and result in only three more games in total and avoid byes that occur with two pools of three.
        And an eight team euro/pacific cup could have two tiers of four, with the top four seeds in pool a (3 to progress to semis) and the next four in pool b (1 to progress to semis).

        The use of tiers (if done properly like with 2013 wc, but not 2008 wc) provides higher quality games, with pheasible upsets, and protects the really weaker teams from total embarassment while the sport is still in its infancy in that country, but does give them a chance to compete against the best if they perform better than expected.

        For eg. Italy in the 2013 wc will enjoy the opportunity of playing teams who realistically sit in that next (second) bracket of teams, but are protected from 80-0 blow outs by the big 3. However if they ended up with a few more ex pats (Minichellos) and performed above expectations they will still get a crack at some of the top tier in the quarters.

        Pool a and b would have the top eight seeds, including the likes of PNG etc. Such teams are probably best equipped to take on the big 3 as they would have played them recently in a 6nations rlif cup or were the best performed teams in the fed shield.

        Unlike some i am not scared of blow out scores to the nature of 40 points, such as say wales, png and france have suffered in recent years 4n tournies, but getting belted by 80 odd is not good for players morale (they would probably go home and return to union or something) and will not prick the interest of curious fans. If an Italy stage an upset or two against the Tongas/Scotlands/Cook Is etc then they would be ready to at least be competitive against the better sides.

      • druzik says:

        Your proposal provides opportunity for every nation. Looking at your WC Qualifiers, personally i would maybe change the second phase of them. MENA and Atlantic already have one automatic spot (the regional tournament winners), so i would have their next highest qualifier play off in a repercharge against the 7th best euro and 7th best pacific (i say 7th as four from each region go through to the rlif cup and fed shield and another two from each go straight through to wc from qualifiers).

        I say this because when i did a bit of a simulated eg in my head (based on current rankings in each region), the likes of Cook Is. miss out, while Jamaica and the second best MENA team, perhaps say Saudia Arabia/Morocco were in. A playoff would fix that.

        Well that is assuming we have to have all of those teams in… the World cup is a celebration of the sport and to determine who is the best. Not everyone can make it, remember in soccer world cup, or Euro cup several years ago, wasn’t it England or France that did not qualify, one of the best nations in the world, but the fluffed it, it didn’t seem to upset anyone (except the fans) that missed out, its just the process.

        I used to have a repechage round in there, but I have always been a bit weary of those, to me they seem like an excuse to get a team in no matter what. I also worry about the fact that having another 4 team repechage tournament would be just a bit too mcuh for one nation to play in a year.

        The MENA and Atlantic teams basically would get two team each into the world cup, One will come through the RLIF Cup/Federation shield, they do not participate in the world cup qualifiers, the other teams would be involved and thus win through a spot. As it is stands 6 teams from each of Europe and the Asia/Pacific get in, I think that is a fair number based on the strength and depth of those federations.

        I still think that the use of “tiers” in major tournaments is beneficial too at this point. The 14 team wc we have now could expand to 16 but still have 3 teams from pool a and b and only one team from pool c and d progress to the quarters. The six nations/rlif cup could run as i suggested above and result in only three more games in total and avoid byes that occur with two pools of three.
        And an eight team euro/pacific cup could have two tiers of four, with the top four seeds in pool a (3 to progress to semis) and the next four in pool b (1 to progress to semis).

        The use of tiers (if done properly like with 2013 wc, but not 2008 wc) provides higher quality games, with pheasible upsets, and protects the really weaker teams from total embarassment while the sport is still in its infancy in that country, but does give them a chance to compete against the best if they perform better than expected.

        Disagree, tiers should be used in ranking, but nothing else, its a sign that we don’t have confidence in the sport and it will always limit the port to just the top 3-4, since we will never consider any team to be as food as those elite team. The idea of the tournaments is that nations get to play against the best, that is the point and incentive to keep top players with their original nations and not swap, like Uate. If Fiji was playing the likes of Australia and NZ and England on a more regular basis and the players were paid for that, do you think he would have jumped ship… I think now. Most players cite when they jump that those two reasons are their incentives, they want to play the best teams. Provide that for them and what you will see is teams like Fiji, PNG, Samoa and others will get much closer because they will be able to attract top players to their nations. The top three then will not have all the poaching rights that they have now… where they get the cream of the crop and everyone else gets the dregs…. the tier system is what is creating this and we need to get rid of it.

        Unlike some i am not scared of blow out scores to the nature of 40 points, such as say wales, png and france have suffered in recent years 4n tournies, but getting belted by 80 odd is not good for players morale (they would probably go home and return to union or something) and will not prick the interest of curious fans. If an Italy stage an upset or two against the Tongas/Scotlands/Cook Is etc then they would be ready to at least be competitive against the better sides.

        Two things, this comment effectively negated your tier system idea, if you are not scared of blowouts then don’t worry about tiers. I am with you on this, I do not worry about blowouts, and the whole thing about nations going home and losing players after a heavy defeat is a misnomer. When Italy and Russia and Serbia were belted in the Euro Cup a couple years ago, did they lose players because of that… no. When the Czech’s were thrashed 96-0 by Germany a couple years ago did they lose players… no, they grew if anything. Wales and PNG, by loosing big in the 4 Nations, sis they have players abandon them in droves… no, they grew. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere I have see to back up these claims and I laugh any time someone brings this up.

        Every championship in sports has its blowouts, even soccer, Union has them all the time, its the way you can sell those games that is the Key. It is interesting to see the attitudes of League and Union to blow out scores. In Rugby League a blowout score is ridiculed and everyone says that the sport is mickey mouse.. and that is our own Rugby League journos and commentators saying that, yet in Rugby Union when a Portugal goes down 108-3 against the All-blacks its written up as the Plucky Portuguese showed flair in their fight as they cam up against the odds of the All-blacks, who were able to put on a great display of running rugby etc….” you get my drift, you can make it sound positive and that the minnow team was courageous in their defeat against a superpower.

        That is what we need.

  14. Chris Sanders says:

    I think we have achieved a lot!More and more International games are being played nowadys and you compared this to what it was like 40 years ago,Rugby League is on a totally different planet!
    The administrators and their cronies do read the forums and take notice of what is written because many refuse to speak to me!!
    In fact one wanted to scrap me recently!

    • Cheyne Maher says:

      Good points on all of the above Dan. I know what you say that the WC in any sport isn’t always going to be the strongest 16/16 or 32/32 nations in the world – which puts more emphasis on the qualifying systems. And you’re right England did miss out on Euro 2010 i think it was, but i just don’t know if we could sustain not having the bigger nations missing out financially.

      I suppose realistically the big 3 will always qualify for a wc though, which are the three we NEED to have to ensure it maximises profits. France are the other nation who are also crucial financially (they pull decent crowds/tv deals etc) -but i remember with your model there was an allowance for these four to play “traditional tours” in year one – which automatically qualifies them for euro/pacific cups anyway i guess.

      Please don’t mistake my thoughts as being critical and i don’t want to sound like many of the negative thinking RL people you refer to – as im sure you appreciate with my novel length posts i am certainly not this way inclined. I just think that in the short term the use of tiers/super groups (the later is probably a better word) is beneficial.

      I am not advocating set in stone tiers such as the rugby union model where the european six nations is always the same six nations and the southern hemisphere comp was always SAf, Aus and NZ until finally they have let Argentina into it this year. Their system makes it near impossible for lower ranked Euro/pacific teams to lift themselves to that next standard.

      My proposed use of super groups still provides opportunites and incentives to qualify for a super group (in whichever tourny), and also provides a pathway for at least one team from a non super group to go all the way to the final of each tourny.

      Admittedly it is not as flexible as the soccer tournys, but the nature of soccer makes upsets far more pheasible than in RL or RU or AFL even.

      As you say though, advertising and changing the mindset of those who think a blow out in RU is ok but not in RL. This will take a long time (a generation probably)which is why i think the super group concept has some merit for now. Personally i think it is a decent compromise of the extremely rigid rugby union model and the very flexible soccer model.

      Just my own thoughts mate.

      As for the theory that the massive blowouts turn people away, you’re probably right in that at that level it isn’t about that – it is about the opportunity of playing on the big stage. Maybe i was just thinking of my own little club which copped two such blow outs toward the end of last year on the back of an horrific injury toll – i know it was a terrrible feeling, but again different kettle of fish i guess.

      • druzik says:

        Good points on all of the above Dan. I know what you say that the WC in any sport isn’t always going to be the strongest 16/16 or 32/32 nations in the world – which puts more emphasis on the qualifying systems. And you’re right England did miss out on Euro 2010 i think it was, but i just don’t know if we could sustain not having the bigger nations missing out financially.

        I suppose realistically the big 3 will always qualify for a wc though, which are the three we NEED to have to ensure it maximises profits. France are the other nation who are also crucial financially (they pull decent crowds/tv deals etc) -but i remember with your model there was an allowance for these four to play “traditional tours” in year one – which automatically qualifies them for euro/pacific cups anyway i guess.

        Realistically, yes the big 3/4 teams will probably always be in there… that’s OK, and over time I can see us expanding to a 20 team world cup, I think that is sufficient for any sport.

        Yes the tours, if need be can be done in the year after a world cup. In essence the top 3/4 nations will have automatic qualification into the regional tournaments and so this should provide them with the time to (a) rest players or (b) have a tour. The issue is that I do not like tours anymore, they are egalitarian and only serve to draw and bribe players for the top 4 teams, it does nothing to spread the potential talent that rightly belongs to other nations.

        Please don’t mistake my thoughts as being critical and i don’t want to sound like many of the negative thinking RL people you refer to – as im sure you appreciate with my novel length posts i am certainly not this way inclined. I just think that in the short term the use of tiers/super groups (the later is probably a better word) is beneficial.

        No … this is a good debate, its what the paper is intended for, to get people thinking and really talking and have a central document to refer to. It’s my putting my money where my mouth is, I have had many of these thought and comments and have them now in a document publicly.

  15. Chris Sanders says:

    And it’s pretty obvious who’s paying for Argentina in this year’s 4 Nations concept in Rugby Union Cheyne Maher!
    Rugby League should only worry about their own game and forget what others are doing!!
    Until changes are made on the RLIF nothing is going to happen quickly.

  16. Chris Sanders says:

    The NRL are obsessed with trying to run AFL off its’feet!They haven’t got a dog’s show especially with Gallop and his terrible twin Carr at helm running the game into the ground!
    Tell me what they both have ever achieved in the game?Nothing??
    I don’t know what it is but Rugby League has such a huge inferiority complex about their own game and are too worried what other sports think of them especially in reguards to the supporters of our game,all of whom,can’t see the big picture!
    However,our administrators couldn’t care a toss, have no conscience and are stiff you know what Daniel!
    They aren’t interested in the game at all and tell me one who is?

    • druzik says:

      I think its the other way. AFL is trying to run NRL off its feet. They are going broke doing it though.

      NRL is just doing its thing, and that is what some people are worries about.

      Rugby League actually does not have an inferiority complex. It has complacency. If anything it was Union and other sports that are like that and its why they keep attacking Rugby league as a sport.

      Chris… is there anything constructive you are going to suggest or make wild and sweeping statements and accusations?

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        Sweet mate, your document is probably the perfect place to post thoughts on it all (i can’t even remember what started this post lol). It has definitely got me putting a lot of thought into what structures i think would work best for various reasons. It is great that there are people like yourself who are out there sharing your thoughts with the wider international rugby league community – hopefully it will one day pay off and we end up with a proper governance structure, clear eligibility rules and a consistent structure of tournys. Cheers Cheyne:)

      • druzik says:

        Well, I think I am the only one that has put it down in any formal structure on paper and posted it publicly anyway.

  17. Chris Sanders says:

    So if the AFL are going broke,why have they got 6,000 registered players in the Kingdom of Tonga,as Rugby League is only a pipedream there as well as Samoa where it’s also a non-event.
    I have been trying to do something constructive for many years in Rugby League(like putting a lot of my own money into the game) and I had no problems when the likes of David Oxley,Johnny Quayle and Ces Mountford were in the corridors of power,but I am now accounting many problems,largely thanks to the politicans in power now,who are all using the game to push their own agendas!!
    They are always putting many obstacles in the pathway which is harming our game and this is why many good salt of the earth Rugby League people have left our game in their droves in recent season,because our administrators wanted to drive them out,because they knew too much for them,as they were seen as threats to their jobs,but they won’t drive me out I give you lot the tip!
    I will see them all all out!!I have seen them all come and go and some are even trying to come back into the game now, sucking the same idiots in all the time.
    Rugby League is no different to a government.People can vote them out,but it doesn’t help our cause that Rugby League is seen as a blue collar sport, with a working class mentality!!

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