Rugby League World Cup 2013 Accelerator Program

By Daniel Andruczyk

A while back I was reading over some news from last year on the Lebanese website and was reading about the MENA championships last October I noticed something interesting in the last line of the third paragraph. There was a mention of a World Cup Accelerator Program “We welcome Latham Tawhai, to the Cedars ranks and look forward to his influence on our boys and his assistance in pushing them onto the next level, of our World Cup accelerator program. This of course aroused my curiosity. What is this program, it has not been advertised or talked about anywhere in the news wires so I started to ask some question with the qualifying countries and administrators that run the program.

What is it?

Even though there are similar schemes in other sports, the Rugby league accelerator program is not based on any of these and any resemblance to other schemes is only co-incidental. The RFL/RLEF/RLIF have provided funds and resources for the 7 nations that are involved in the World Cup Qualifiers. This is a great initiative to help ensure that each nation that wants to get the help will prepare them in the best way possible.

I talked to Tas Baitieri from the RLIF and asked what the initiative actually is. Tas said “the accelerator program is an assistance package with financial and man power support to the 7 countries involved in the qualification process. The RFL have a group handling this and identify guest coaches and align them to countries building a relationship there and also monitor progress”.

Though its not as easy as it sounds do get this assistance Tas went on to say “ Teams have to be at a certain level and demonstrate they are ready to be included in the qualification process and accept the conditions of engagement. These conditions are set targets which the RFL WC group monitor and follow up on”.

So in other words each country must apply to the RFL/RLIF with a set of criteria that they need. This can be say player development, coaching development or equipment. It could be money they request or kits or what ever the country needs. However, there has to be transparency with where the resources are used.

Who Has Taken It

I contacted Neil Wood, who is tasked with running the Accelerator Program, and asked him which countries are eligible “The Accelerator Programme is designed to allow teams involved in World Cup Qualification to get support for their preparation” he said and “All Qualifiers” are eligible for the program and went on to say that the support “… falls into three categories: Coaching Support, Domestic Development, Logistics”. Finally, Neil says “All support is targeted at players playing within the country in order to bring them up to the required level quicker”.

Talking with various heads of nations, these are the nations I know have taken up the Accelerator Program. Jamaica, Serbia, Russia, Italy and obviously Lebanon. I have not heard from the USA or South Africa if they have taken up the accelerator program.

Obviously, the resources that each nation has been given is not being divulged but I do understand that up to 10,000 pounds per nation has been offered. This is quite a significant amount. This corresponds to roughly $16,000 (AUD and US) and can go quite far in their preparation.

Speaking to Romeo Monteith from Jamaica when asked about the program said that they definitely applied and got support. It would be silly not apply for such help. Danny Kazandzjian from the RLEF said that “It assisted with the likes of Paul Broadbent joining Italy’s ranks;  Rob Powell and Latham Tawhai helping Lebanon”. He goes on to say “ Lee Crooks has been working with Serbia, and is now their technical director and Russia will be making a similar announcement soon”.

Danny went on further to say that “although it is a short term strategy it will leave a long-term legacy as RLIF and RLEF Members are being introduced to more professional technical preparation spanning two years, which will undoubtedly improve the relevant governing bodies”.

Great Initiative

Its great to finally see this kind of initiative taking place in Rugby League. Even though such programs of helping nations are not new in sport, certainly we have seen Rugby Union do this with their minnow nations in the past, its a new concept to Rugby League and I think a welcome and positive one. It can only be positive and a help as these nations that are fighting their way to the next tier of nations (basically along side France, Wales, PNG, Ireland, Scotland, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Is) and competition. They will get access to world class coaching and better facilities and equipment. They can have proper training camps for their local players where they get the best coaching and they can integrate with any of their Overseas players much better.

In the end all it can mean is that we get the best World Cup qualifying tournaments with the two best teams winning through to play with the other 12 nations and provide us with the best Rugby League World Cup Fourteen and most successful World Cup in its 60 year history.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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