The 12 Year Master Plan

By Daniel Andruczyk

The latest blog comes on the back of a discussion I had with a avid rugby league fan in New Zealand. Its also a re-vamp of last years series of blogs on the 4 ways to fix International Rugby League. Originally I did this back in 2007 before the World Cup where there was a 10 year plan, it was in answer to what Richard Lewis and the “RLIF” had announced at the time with the lead up to the 2013 Rugby League world cup. Now with the current plan having run half way through its cycle, there is still no real idea on what is beyond 2013. Well, if I were in charge of the RLIF here is what I would do:

Full Time Federations

So this is nothing new, I have called for this many times over. Assuming that there are profits from the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom, then the bulk of that money MUST, and I cannot stress enough, that it must go into professionalising, making full-time and fully independent. By doing this the RLIF can lobby sponsors and governments for money and then use that not only to fund the sport but to also fund regional development with regional federations such as the RLEF.

The Master Plan

So in short the master plan start the year after the 2013, It really is a 4 year master plan but but goes through 3 cycles, however there is a second underhanded reason for making it 12 years and this will hopefully become clearer later:

  • 2014 – Qualifiers for the Regional Championships (European Cup, Pacific Cup, Atlantic Cup, MENA Cup)
  • 2015 – Regional Championships Finals, start of World Cup Qualifiers
  • 2016 – RLIF Cup (6N) and Federation Shield (4N), Continue World Cup Qualifiers
  • 2017 – World Cup
  • 2018 – Repeat 2014
  • 2019 – Repeat 2015
  • 2020 – Repeat 2016
  • 2021 – Repeat 2017
  • 2022 – Repeat 2014
  • 2023 – Repeat 2015
  • 2024 – Repeat 2016
  • 2025 – Repeat 2017

There it is, as simple as that. With these tournaments and this schedule ALL nations in the world of Rugby League can compete on a near yearly basis in tournaments and qualifiers, have meaningful matches that mean something and can be used to build up the profile of the sport.

The Tournaments

So here I will describe the tournaments in a bit of detail. Once again these are based on what I have written in the past so at the bottom I will have links to the past posts. The cornerstone in many ways of this plan I will outline is that every game counts, it counts to the World Cup, that teams that go through the progressive stages through to Finals stages, all are competing for ultimately a world cup spot. What this does is that players, because they are playing world cup qualifiers now, are locked into those nations for that four year cycle, at a minimum!

Regional Championships: These are spread over two years. Nations in regions are ranked, their ranking being based on official rankings that would come from the RLIF and regional federations, yes official rankings. The top 3/4 ranked nation and the hosts would have automatic qualification. In the first year, so 2014 in this case, nations ranked outside of these 3/4 would go through qualifiers that are tiered, and these would be populated by the lower ranked nations. Matches can be played  in tournaments like the Euro shield to maintain the current traditions, or can be played through the year when dates can be arranged. This is sort of what soccer does and I think works well. in the second year, that is 2015, the Finals would be played. So the top 8 teams play out a championships with eventual semi-finals and final as well as a 3/4 play off, which actually is a crucial match. Why? Well the two finalists gain automatic qualification through to a 6 nations tournaments, while the winner of the 3/4 play off goes into a 3 way play off for two spots in the same 6 Nations. The loser of the  3/4 match goes into a 4 nations game.

The important thing with these tournaments is that all the nations play the regional championships to give them value and truly give all other nations a shot at the best nations and players. So Australia and New Zealand would play the Pacific Cup against Tong and PNG etc… the English and French would play the Welsh, or Russians. The Atlantic group would consist of 4 nations USA, Canada, Jamaica and South Africa.

6 and 4 Nations: Played in the third year of the cycle so this would be 2016. The 6 nations tournament I call the RLIF Cup and the 4 Nations tournaments I call the federation shield. The latter exists currently and so is a type of continuation of traditional tournaments. The RLIF Cup will have the two finalists from the European and Pacific Cup tournaments go through Automatically, while the final two positions would be a 3 way play-off between the winner of the Atlantic Cup and the 3rd placed teams from Europe and the Pacific. The Federation Shield would consist of the team that does not make the RLIF Cup as well as the 4th places team from Europe and the Pacific and the second placed team from the Atlantic.

Right here you see that we have two major tournaments with 10 teams from across the world involved. Now the Federation shield is not just some second tier tournament it has value. So all the nations in the RLIF Cup get automatic qualification to the World Cup and the two finalists of the Federation Shield also get automatic qualification into the world cup. So you can see that from the qualification process in the regional tourneys that teams can get World Cup qualification if they are consistently good. The beauty here is that both these tournaments can be played in the same place and be played as double headers.

World Cup Qualifiers: These are played over a two year period, while the regional finals are being played in that year the World Cup qualifiers for the nations that did not make it into the Regional finals start their World Cup campaigns. These continue the next year where the nations that don’t make the semis of the regional cups and the two teams from the federation shield can go in and still try to make the world cup through these qualifiers. These should be based on similar groups like in the soccer.

World Cup: This is the big one. With the 2013 World Cup having been 14 teams it only makes sense that we go to a 16 team competition after this. We need to have even groups without the Super group concept which only scurs many of the games… the point of these tournaments is that the new world nations play the top teams at the group stages. The whole attraction for nations like Tonga or Serbia to play is that they will get a shot at teams like Australia or England.

So the World Cup would have 4 groups of 4 teams. 8 teams get qualification through the RLIF Cup and Federation Shield, and the other 8 would be through the qualifiers. Each team in the group plays each other once in the group and the top two teams in each group go through to the quarter finals and then onto Semi Finals and Final. So all up you would have 31 matches played over 6 weekends. Its easy to see through all the tournaments and qualifiers that some nations would have the opportunity to play the top nation 3 out of the 4 years in the cycle!


What all this also does is that it allows nations who have ambitions to host the World Cup to prove themselves by hosting some of the other tournaments. Lets say that Papua new Guinea wants to host a World Cup one day, first they can host a Pacific Cup… well they have done that already, if that is considered a success then PNG can host a RLIF Cup and Federation Shield. If that is a successful tournaments then why not have a shot at hosting a World Cup. Lets have not only on the playing field encouragement for nations and players, but also lets give them incentives off the field as well!


I will say this now… tours are dead. They are an old archaic system of the old era when there literally were only 4 teams that played Rugby League and really serve nothing in the way of promoting the sport internationally. HOWEVER saying that I do recognise that many people still have longing for the old tour like the Ashes. In the master plan there still is room for these. This is where the 12 year cycle is seen to come into its own.

The chances are that England, Australia, France and New Zealand will be the nations that always get automatic qualification in the regional championships. This will give them the chance in the first year of the 4 year cycle to do tours. This is how I see the tours being done:

  • 2014 – Australia tours England and France, New Zealand tours France and England.
    • Weekend 1 – 1st test – England vs. Australia, France vs. New Zealand
    • Weekend 2 – 2nd test – England vs. Australia, France vs. New Zealand
    • Weekend 3 – 3rd test – England vs. Australia, France vs. New Zealand
    • Weekend 4 – 1sts test – England vs. New Zealand, France vs. Australia
    • Weekend 5 – 2nd test – England vs. New Zealand, France vs. Australia
    • Weekend 6 – 3rd test – England vs. New Zealand, France vs. Australia
  • 2018 – Australia and New Zealand tour each other and France and England tour each other.
    • Weekend 1 – 1st test – Australia v New Zealand, England vs. France
    • Weekend 2 – 2nd test – Australia vs. New Zealand, England vs. France
    • Weekend 3 – 3rd test – New Zealand vs. Australia, France vs. England
    • Weekend 4 – 4th test – New Zealand vs. Australia, France vs. England
  • 2022 – England tour Australia and New Zealand, France tour New Zealand and Australia
    • Weekend 1 – 1st test – Australia vs. England, New Zealand vs. France
    • Weekend 2 – 2nd test – Australia vs. England, New Zealand vs. France
    • Weekend 3 – 3rd test – Australia vs. England, New Zealand vs. France
    • Weekend 4 – 1st test – New Zealand vs. England, Australia vs. France
    • Weekend 5 – 2nd test – New Zealand vs. England, Australia vs. France
    • Weekend 6 – 3rd test – New Zealand vs. England, Australia vs. France


So in summary the master plan is a set of meaningful tournaments that all nations take part in. Full tours can be brought back in by the four traditional nations as well as giving all the New World Nations a shot at the big boys. Success gets rewarded and nations who want to host World Cups have a clear way to do that as well. As mentioned previously I have done posts on these last year and so below are the links to not only how the master plan works but also a simulation.

4 ways to fix international Rugby league Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

The simulation Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

There may be some differences in what I have above to what I had previously, this comes naturally as ideas develop, but the underlying, fundamental concepts are all still the same.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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