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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26 Responses to “The 12 Year Master Plan”

  1. Alex-P says:

    simple, effective, entertaining – yes i love it

    probablity of the current federation taking note – highly unlikely 🙁

  2. dragons4eva says:

    Good post Druzik. It makes sense as teams would have ambitions to keep on going and have something higher to aim for. I think the reason Soccer is the global sport is because it not only gives teams the chance to take on the big guys but it has a system that builds up anticipation for up and coming tournaments. Oh it RL could do the same…

    • druzik says:


      Yes basically I have tried to base it on what soccer has but with that little added incentive with basically all matches being the WC qualifiers. this way you are able to keep the number of games played a year to a reasonable level so the wear and tear on bodies is not as great.

      With leagues physicality. it cant do the 2-3 matches a week that soccer sometimes demands on players.

  3. Juro says:

    It all makes so much sense. What do you see as the hurdles of implementing such a plan? Is it the cost of running the tournaments? Or NRL and ESL standing in the way? Or something else??

    • druzik says:

      Well ESL and NRL should not be an issue since all these matches can be played in the regular 6-8 week window at the end of the seasons. Probably only France, Lebanon and South Africa may have problems since their seasons run out of sync with the rest of the world… but they have not seemed to have issues so far with matches.

      Money will always be an issue… I have in the past done a costing for it in terms of what it would cost say to pay prize money… but its hard to know without exact stadium fees etc in each country. But a rough figure of about $20 million over the 4 years is doable. roughly 1/2 of that should be on Prize monies and the other on stadia, hotels and travel.

      I do know that the Australian Uni tour to SA last year for a touring party of 30, for a 1.5 week 3 match series cost about $60,000 Australian… we could use that as a bench mark I guess.

      But I will try and do a rough costing at the least in the next week or so and do another blog post on it…. there are a couple more pending issues to write about till then however.

  4. PNG says:

    some great ideas once again, have you ever been able to send some of your ideas through to the rlif headqaurters? if so have they ever replied? . I’m so glad that i stumbled on to your website it is refreshing to see that there are alot of people out there who care about the international game & are willing to put there thoughts out there for discussion I don’t understand how so many people can come up with creative ways to improve the international game yet the people in charge of the game can’t or take to long to implement them.

    • druzik says:

      Glad that you enjoy the site.

      I have the radio show now also on Tuesday nights and its open to people coming on and discussing thing on there and ideas on international rugby league.

      Yes I have pitched the idea to a couple of people, but it was hard to gauge their reaction to it. So yeah… I just plug along I suppose.

  5. wain says:

    love your work as always!

    only thing i would change (very minute detail too ) is for atlantic and MENA to have direct qualification into 6N instead of playoff against 3rd european and pacific countries…give them the direct chance to stepup…so 2 auto qualifications from europe and pacific and 1 from each of atlantic and MENA.

    that being said…love your vision, and the insight you have. got get ’em!

    • druzik says:

      Eventually yes, I think you are right, we can go with direct entry, but to start with I am not sure the Atlantic and MENA teams are quite there yet… maybe the USA and Lebanon are… but I would like to see them earn their place in the pre tournament first.

      There is another reason I do this too. The Atlantic cup at the moment only consists of 3 teams maybe 4 when Canada start playing internationals again. This only gives the nations really 2-3 games where as in the Pacific and European Cups nations will get 5 matches. Having this small qualifier gives those nationbs a bit more of playing time.

      The other incentive is that the 3rd place match gets more of an incentive as those teams aren’t just playing for a spot in the lower tier tournament, but are still playing for a potential shot at the RLIF cup, so there is meaning to that match, by winning through they get to plat against the major teams and qualify to the WC but even if they don’t, they have a chance, albeit a smaller one being a finalist in the 4 Nations and getting a WC spot.

      These can be tweaked around though in terms of the format… I did have another idea last night that improves the federation shield while still maintaining the same 4 year structure.

  6. GCCowboy says:

    I think a plan is a good thing and having fulltime roles in the federations to do as you say promote and lobby a must.
    However the thing missing in your plan is tradition. Building tradtitions and rivalries is a must.
    For that I say bring back 3 test “ashes” tours, but you are right tours are archaic, these need to be played over 3 weeks and be done quickly. Every 4 years in between World Cups.
    Also there needs to be some tradition built in Europe…. How I am not sure but the French and the Welsh are in a good position to develop that rivalry.
    In the pacific PNG needs to develop an enemy and I think it should be a combined Pacific side, that will help them progress as most of the Pac guys will come from the NRL but I doubt they would have the passion of the Kumuls so might generate a real SOO type feel.

    • druzik says:

      I think a plan is a good thing and having fulltime roles in the federations to do as you say promote and lobby a must.

      Yes, if we are to comepete in anyway on the international stage then we must have a full-time, independent RLIF board.

      However the thing missing in your plan is tradition. Building tradtitions and rivalries is a must.
      For that I say bring back 3 test “ashes” tours, but you are right tours are archaic, these need to be played over 3 weeks and be done quickly. Every 4 years in between World Cups.

      Rivalries will build up over time however, but we already have some great rivalries in the sport, England/Australia, Australia/NZ, Tonga/Samoa, France/England etc… even Wales/Scotland and Wales/England are pretty hard games. As I had down the bottom there is room for the tours, but in reality you want to be inclusive of as many nations as possible and tournaments are the only way to do this. In soccer one of the biggest rivalries is Ebgland/Germany, but they only play once every so often and in some ways that is what makes those games special, they do only come round occasionally and those games then are played hard, similar would happen here I would say.

      Also there needs to be some tradition built in Europe…. How I am not sure but the French and the Welsh are in a good position to develop that rivalry.

      See right here you have already forgotten about some of the other nations. Germany/Czechs is a big rivalry as is Italy/Serbia. Lebanon/Ireland has grown to be a decent match up too over the years. Ukraine and Latvia also are starting to build a rivalry, yes these are annual tournaments that allow it, but we wont get any more if we don’t start exposing nations more and more. France and Wales just have to play more games against each other and other nations. It will all come together, we can’t force rivalries either, they need to develop over time organically.

      In the pacific PNG needs to develop an enemy and I think it should be a combined Pacific side, that will help them progress as most of the Pac guys will come from the NRL but I doubt they would have the passion of the Kumuls so might generate a real SOO type feel.

      PNG already has some good match ups with Australia and Fiji. I am surprised the Kiwis don’t play them more often like the Aussies do. I am not in favour of combined sides at all. They are not national teams, they are just a bunch of players thrown together. May as well just have barbarian teams all round. No, let teams play their best national sides and go from there, you’ll be surprised at how good some of these nations can be.

  7. PNG says:

    there is a rivalry whenever we play samoa,tonga,fiji,cookislands (we want to be the dominant side in the pacific cup ) or the pm13 your right that nz should play us more we should all play against eachother more considering the short distance between us all i think besides when we played nz in the worldcup 08 i think we hadn’t played them for ten years or so that’s way too long. how can i tune into the radio program also my friends back home say there is talk of usa tomahawk coming to play png residents team and samoa do you know anything about this

    • druzik says:

      There you go, we have rivalries right there for you and the Pacific nations.

      Yes Agree, Australia and the Kiwis SHOULD have played more tests against you, its the only way that any team can progress. You only imporve by playing and learning from the best.

      The details for the radio program can be found on the World League link and also you can listen in at

      I have not heard anything about the tomahawks, but I will ask David Niu about it. Samoa also, I’ll see what I can find out.

    • druzik says:

      I spoke to David Nui last night and asked him about the match and he said that he knows nothing of it…. though its a juicy prospect. But he certainly is not in negotiations with PNGRFL. He has a full schedule this year already with the Atlantic Cup and a couple one off tests against Italy and Tonga I believe.

      But it would be great for PNG to get at least a warm up match against someone before the 4N, maybe Fiji or Samoa would be good.

  8. PNG says:

    Thanks for taking the time to follow that up much apreciated the pngrfl are trying to get some warm up matches but unless they were to be played after the nrl season it would be the residents side (a side made of all local players) as the players abroad are tied up in the english sl and div 1 comps and nrl Qcup in aus . if there was a vote for someone to be admited to a position in the rlif you would get my vote hands down and no doubt many others aswell keep up the Great work have told other kumuls fans in aus of your site i’m sure they will give it a look once again thankyou

    • druzik says:

      Do you have a contact or website for the PNGRFL… the old one does not get used anymore it seems… I think David may be keen to do something with the Kumuls. Probably a residents team would be a better match for the Tomahawks, though I would still expect the Kumuls to belt the Americans.

      Thanks for the vote… if only the fans were able to vote the board in.

      Thanks, am glad that I can provide a service for all of you.

  9. PNG says:

    the pngrfl chairman is gary juffa he runs the kumuls facebook page can be contacted thrugh that or his own face book page garry juffa pngrfl deputy chairman is brian kramer can be contacted the same way also phone contact can be made through the international directory pngrfl they were both in the country not so long ago holding talks with mal meninga and qrl man ross livermore and are organiseing for png junior kumuls to play in the queensland junior comps cyril conel cup u 16 & mal meninga cup u 18 they will be playing hopefully in the northen conference against nq cowboys cairns centrel qld and others I think david nuie does some corespondence through facebook would be great for both the tomahawks and png residents if something can happen down the track david nuie does some fantastic work for his national team .I have listened to some previus radio programs of yours and chris top program how can i listen to some more recent ones how do i contact the show with a coment if the need arises and can you give updates on the png national comp please I have trouble getting regular results from home

  10. druzik says:

    It is true that the last Ashes tour to Australia was in 92 if I remember correctly, but the reason the next three were overseas is that crowds were not coming to the game here in Australia and it seems to still be like that.

    The “luster” of Origin these days overshadowed anything in League in Australia.

    Would a tour bring it back… I am not sure… I think tournaments are the way of the future.

  11. druzik says:

    Not sure what your point is…

    Both the USA and Lebanon got over 22,000 crowds (25k for USA and 23k for Lebanon IIRC). I was there for both games and went to most of their promotional games they did at Redfern while kicked out… Both were great matches despite the scorelines.

    They had lots of support because of the the fact the Bunnies had been kicked out and also they were warm up matchs for the WC that was coming up, with lots of NRL players involved as well. It was about the time of the Rally through Sydney as well, which I was at, a lot of people were angry and were spurred on to go and suport the club.

    I dont think the Americans were laughed out of town, I remember being in the Leagues Club after the match talking with a few old supporters and jurnos, they were impressed that the sport was played over there at all and had a few decent players. They already had a large number of American Born players.

  12. druzik says:

    There are QLD residents and NSW Residnets sides. As there are NT, Vic, SA and WA rep teams that play in their own state of origin style tournaments. From there The Australian Affiliated States team is chosen and do annual tours of the Pacific Ialands (they toured this year already.

    You have to realise that the Australian sport Psyche is similar to that of the USA, its and elitist one, not like in Europe where you have P&R.

    Tours just dont do anything any more, of course the Kangaroos would beat and Auckland side, you expect that. Gone are the days when everyone were semi pro and things were more even. We now have Fully pro teams coming up against semi pro and amateur teams… so yeah its not going to happen any more. The Kangaroos should be left to playing internationals these days and not clubs. Let clubs do tours of other clubs if they want, Everton did this in soccer recently, I have no issue with that, but ethe National team should be left to playing National sides.

    How do you bring up the Auckland/NZ domestic comps well not sure there, I am not totally up to speed there.

  13. druzik says:

    … and Tonga etc… will grow when you have them in tournaments playing the top nations.

    I’d rather see Tonga play the Kangaroos in a Tournament than Auckland in a tour that does nothing.

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