So International Rugby League is Dead…

By Daniel Andruczyk

… Well according to Dean Richie at the Daily Telegraph. Sometimes I wonder how the hell a supposed journalist and supposed Rugby League fan get a job at a major newspaper like that. So Dean wrote an “article” in the Telegraph on Tuesday the 26th of October with one of the most inaccurate and arrogant titles “Bumbling Brits killing International Rugby League”.

In this article Dean Ritchie basically says that the only International teams worth being recognised as international are Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain… erherm, erherm…. Dean. Great Britain? Great Britain has not existed since 2008. He also makes the observation that Great Britain (England) have not won an major international tournament in 25 years… he says the last major trophy they won was the 1972 World Cup. Hmmm Dean no wonder you are a journalist and not a very good one at that your math is shocking. It would make it 38 years actually, but that is not the point because the Brits have won major titles since 1972.

But what he doesn’t see is that he has gone and slapped every other International Team in the face, including the New Zealand Kiwis. Apparently, according to Dean Ritchie winning a series tour against the Kiwis is NOT winning a major trophy, only winning against the “all mighty Kangaroos” is it a major trophy. Thank god the Kiwis won the World Cup in 2008 then!

So Lets Get the Facts Right

So lets look at some facts here, so apparently 1972 was the last time Great Britain or England won something and that was the World Cup, Ok fine. But then in 1974, 1979, 1989, 1990, Great Britain enjoyed 2-1 series wins against the Kiwis in their tours. These were not only at home but also on the road. In 1993 Great Britain had a 3-0 win against the Kiwis. The Federation Shield was played in 2006 which saw England play Samoa, Tonga and France in a great international Tournaments. One which also serves as a world Cup qualifier. Then in 2007 the Brits had another 3-0 series win against the Kiwis. On top of that how about all the other one off matches that they have played and won against the French and Welsh in recent time. These games actually serve a greater purpose than just games, but to give other nations the chance to compete with one of the world best team.

And what about the European Cup that England have won since 1972. These have actually been quite consistent wins, till they pulled out of them and competed in the tri-nations. But England won the European cups in 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1996, 2003 and 2004. So once again some major tournaments. Don’t forget that Wales, part of Great Britain have won the European Cup in 1995, 2009 and 2010.

Now, we know that Great Britain does not exist anymore and that they have split into their four constituent nations, England, Wales , Ireland and Scotland. In the last few years we have seen the rise of these teams on the international arena. Wales last year and this year have won the European Cup and won the right to compete in next years 4 Nations! Now we have two “British teams” in the 4 Nations Dean, how is that showing that the game is dyeing? Don’t forget that Ireland and Scotland were also involved and who could remember the fact that Scotland were able to beat Wales in the 2008 world cup qualifiers to get into the finals instead of the Dragonhearts who were the favourites! Isn’t that what we want, some competition?

So lets see here, since 1972, Great Britain, England or Wales have won have won a total of 17 tournaments. So Mr Ritchie you are totally wrong wrong wrong. You can see that British teams have had quite some success.

International Rugby League

And on top of all this lets have a look at how the International game has actually grown over the last years. Since 2006 here is a list of regular tournaments and the Nations that have been played:

  • 2006 – Federation Shield – England, Tonga, Samoa, France
  • 2006 – Central European Development Tri Nations (Fore-runner to European Shield) – Germany, Austrlia, Estonia
  • 2006 – Tri-Nations – Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand
  • 2007 – European Shield – Serbia, Germany, Czech Republic
  • 2007 – New Zealand Tour of England and France – New Zealand, Great Britain, France
  • 2007 – PNG tour of France and Wales – Papua New Guinea, Wales, France
  • 2007 – Pacific Cup – Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tokelau, NZ Maori
  • 2008 – European Med – Russia, Serbia, Lebanon
  • 2008 – European Shield – Germany, Italy, Czech Republic
  • 2008 – European Bowl – Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine
  • 2008 – World Cup – Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Ireland, Scotland, Papua New Guinea
  • 2009 – European Shield – Italy, Germany, Czech republic
  • 2009 – European Bowl – Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine
  • 2009 – European Med – Catalonia, Belgium, Morocco
  • 2009 – European Cup – Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy, Lebanon, Italy
  • 2009 – Pacific Cup – Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Cook Islands
  • 2009 – Atlantic Cup – United States, Jamaica
  • 2009 – 4 Nations – France, Australia, England, New Zealand
  • 2009 – Mediterranean Cup – Greece, Malta, Portugal, Italy A
  • 2010 – European Shield – Serbia, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine
  • 2010 – European Bowl – Norway, Malta
  • 2010 – European Cup – Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales
  • 2010 – 4 Nations – Australia, England, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand
  • 2010 – Atlantic Cup – United States, Canada, Jamaica
  • 2010 – Italy tour of Wales  – Wales, Italy
  • 2010 – Lebanon tour of Italy – Italy, Lebanon

and then there are other smaller junior tournaments and 9’s tournaments that are played regularly from the Pacific to the Middle East and Europe! So in the last 5 years we have had over 30 nations play International games and there are roughly 25 nations that have domestic competitions with local players playing in them, not full of ex-pats as many of these “journalists” and fans claim.

Thank the Brits instead!

If anything, Dean, you should be thanking the Brits. They are the only nations that has actively supported the International game in any way it can. You complain about them never being up to Australia’s standards, but they have created and support the Rugby League European Federation, have opened the Challenge Cup up to foreign teams from France, Russia, Wales and Scotland. The Super League and the lower division have now 4 professional and semi-professional teams from Wales and France. The French Elite 1 seems to finally have overcome many of their drawbacks with teams over spending and has stabilised out with quite a good 10 team professional competition.

What have the Australians and New Zealanders done? The Pacific Cup certainly had nothing to do with the NRL. It came from pressure of these nations wanting a way to compete with the better nations. Is there a Pacific Rugby League federation? well in theory one was set up last year, but not by the Aussies or Kiwis. It was initiative brought through by the Fijians, Samoans and Tongans, and the Kiwis and Australians haven’t even thought of signing onto it. They continue to be the haves against the have nots.

And lets not forget that many of Australia’s and New Zealand’s players have been poached from the Pacific Nations, so any chance that those nations would have had to be competitive the two “bullies” bend, break and poach their way, through the RLIF and plunder their ranks. Even this year we have seen the cases of Akuila Uate basically being dangled the carrot of State of Origin if he swapped from Fiji to Australia… has he made the Kangaroo squad? No and he never will, but the NSWRL want him for the blues and they abused the rules to get him. I bet that if Uate wants to switch back to Fiji he will be banned now, just like Fuifui Moimoi was for Tonga… then again serves him right for being a Polynesian Yo-yo.


So I hope that despite what Dean Ritchie claim, I hope that I have shown you that not only is international Rugby League not dyeing, but its thriving all around the world! Believe it or not it you… the fan that can change the media and the perception of International Rugby League. Start to demand that more games are shown from other nations, that matches like The European Cup get shown and not on delay but live. That a sensible series of International tournaments where all nations get to compete are brought in and International Rugby league, after 115 years finally gets the recognition that it deserves.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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