Today the 2013 Rugby League World Cup venues have been released. In a fairly conservative move the heartlands of Rugby League in England have been chosen over a few new cities looking to promote the sport more. While all this is taking place, underhandedly the Aussies once agin show that they are bullies in the sport and are looking to undermine the sport internationally. Also in Australia there are worrying reports of the financial troubles of the Gold Coast Titans. There are reports that the team may fold but the question, however is, is this such a bad thing? It will be a test for the New ARL commission in more ways than one.
The draw for the 2013 World Cup was announced today and is as follows:
England v Australia Millennium Stadium, Cardiff*
Fiji v Ireland Spotland Stadium, Rochdale
England v Ireland The Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield
Australia v Fiji Langtree Park, St Helens
England v Fiji KC Stadium, Hull
Australia v Ireland Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick
France v Papua New Guinea MS3 Craven Park, Hull
New Zealand v Samoa The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
France v New Zealand Parc des Sports, Avignon
Samoa v Papua New Guinea MS3 Craven Park, Hull
New Zealand v Papua New Guinea Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds
France v Samoa Gilbert Brutus Stadium, Perpignan
Scotland v Tonga Pow Beck Stadium, Whitehaven
Scotland v Italy Pow Beck Stadium, Whitehaven
Tonga v Italy The Shay Stadium, Halifax
Cook Islands v USA The Memorial Stadium, Bristol
Wales v USA Glyndŵr University Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
Wales v Cook Islands The Gnoll, Neath
Wales v Italy Millennium Stadium, Cardiff*
Tonga v Cook Islands Leigh Sports Village
Scotland v USA City of Salford Community Stadium
Winner A v Winner D Glyndŵr University Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
Runner Up A v 3rd place B DW Stadium, Wigan
Winner B v Winner C Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds
Runner Up B v 3rd place A The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
Winner Q/F 1 v Winner Q/F 4 To be confirmed
Winner Q/F 2 v Winner Q/F 3 To be confirmed
World Cup Final
Winner S/F 1 v Winner S/F 2 To be confirmed
The Venues chosen by the RFL for next years world cup have a conservative flavour to them The Northern English heartland clubs/cities have predominantly won out to have the majority of game. Its a move that is most probably designed to try and make as much of a profit from the games as possible, by targeting the heartland areas of Rugby League, as was done in 2008 in Australia, the sport can utilise the fans and now are a full year out for promotion of the tournament.
The map below shows a comparison of the 2013 venues compared to the last time the UK held the tournament in 2000, a tournament where a loss of nearly 2 million pounds was made. The yellow dots represent the 2000 WC games and red are venues that have hosted the 2000 and will host 2013 games. A decent distribution through the 2000 sites showed a sense of forward thinking by the RFL back then to try and showcase the sport in many different areas. A combination of poor weather a train strike and bad planning forcing a loss. The Green, which are the 2013 only cities in combination with red show the clear line through Northern England where the heartland cities are.
Cardiff have a double header to start the tournament off with Australia v England following the opening Wales v Italy match. A few non heartland cities such as bristol, Limerick have been chooses, but on the whole its cities that have strong professional or semi-professional teams in the UK or French competitions. Perpignan, with the Catalans Dragons, has won a match and also Avignion which has demonstrated in the last few years that their fans a mad keen for the sport, selling out French games, has also been given a match. Over all no real surprises yet. We still are waiting upon the decision where the semi-finals and final will be played. One only hopes that for the final Wembley Stadium in London will be chosen.
With this decision, it should guarantee that the tournament and sport will at least break even, and we all hope that it will make a greater profit than the $5 million the 2008 WC supposedly made. This still begs the question, why on earth are we relying and basing the future of our sport all on one tournament every four years?
This morning we all woke up to the news that the Gold Coast Titans are in a lot of financial trouble. The debt varies depending on where you read but it is between $25 – $35 million. Now I usually don’t get involved in clubs struggles (unless its Cronulla) and I also try to stay out of the running of national competitions and bodies, and I will sort of do so here as well. However a question arises about the sustainability of the sport and its future expansion. If the Titans do die then a. Should we look to resurrect them with a new Gold Coast franchise? and b. is this a new opportunity for the NRL and the ARLC to do something new, bold and innovative?
Below are some links to stories about this
I banged my head against the wall on this one when i read it. Australia now has a new way to snare any overseas talent. Players that could help other nations will now be tied into Australia and any future world cup representations or national games will be dealt a server blow. This will also drastically hurt the Kiwis. I can see that Australia will once again just uber dominate the sport. All the hard work of the last few years of New Zealand, England and other nations building up the sport and brand will be destroyed. Its unfortunate that the RLIF have absolutely no power or confidence to stand up to this, oh wait, its run by the Aussies!
Remember 2 years ago I predicted that within 10 years Rugby League in Australia will cease to exist, the NRL will still be there but will be a completely different sport to what everyone else plays and in that sense will not compete anymore or at worst will destroy the sport completely in the rest of the world.. This decision is only enforce this view, we have 8 years to go.
This decision is a very disappointing one in my eyes.
Now let me try and explain what I mean by my above comments. The NRL, is looking at a large TV deal next year, wanting over $1 billion. In reality if they want to achieve this they do need to open and expand new markets. This means that new teams have to come into the sport. Naturally this means new cities and new areas to target, ones that are lucrative to the TV broadcasters and sponsors. Now, there is no doubt that the Gold Coast as a region brings a lot to the table, but how many false dawns can we have? This is, what, the 5th iteration of a “Gold Coast” team, first with the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants, then the Gold Coast Sea Gulls, the Gold Coast Gladiators and the Gold Coast Chargers.
Lets let them die and lets have a decent, proper selection process for the new franchises. If we have a new Gold Coast team get set up, how are they going to be different? Do we let Searle back in, he is obviously the one who got them into this mess to start with. Is he fit to run the team. Considering how much influence he has had on the sport over the years its a worrying sign for the sport. After all wasn’t he the one who pushed for the “independent commission” originally? Does this spell doom for the ARLC and the sport??
But I digress. Perth and Central Queensland are a must in me eyes. These are two massive areas for rugby league with lots of fans and in the past have shown the ability for these cities to have good crowds. The last spot will have to come down to either the new Gold Coast franchise or the Central Coast team. But the real thing is the precedent it can set for the new ARL commission. They have been bold recently with the changing of fundamental aspects of the game like the play-off system changes. But they need to show that they are willing to make the tough decision when it comes to letting a team go naturally belly up.
There is a country we can look to. The USA is an “elitist” sports country. They are not adverse to letting team die or shifting them to the other side of the country. You see this in the NFL and baseball often. Those sports certainly have not gone down because of it and over time you can have a distribution of the teams through the country, where you are constantly testing and evolving the sport and teams. Certainly these days the idea, to me, of a Sydney team if it were to naturally go belly up, or if it was a smart move to shift to another city, like Adelaide, should not only be considered but palatable. AND yes this means even if it is Cronulla . If a move meant the survival of the brand in some way, so be it. It will be for the greater good.
So that is my take on the whole situation on the Gold Coast. I encourage debate on this and anything else in this article.
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