I’m not sure if there are many International Rugby League fans in this forum but on the off chance there is I have created this thread.
With the rugby league world cup proving to be a success last year (making $AU 5million) international rugby league has flourished. With three major tournaments coming up this year and a probable Atlantic cup involving Jamaica, USA, Japan and probably South Africa) the game is looking healthy. All three of these tournaments promise to be great competitions with most teams on fairly even par;
The Pacific nations- involving PNG, Fiji, Tonga, and the winner of Samoa v cook islands (to be played in Queensland) will take place in Papua New Guinea. (PNG). PNG are favourites to take out this tournament although Fiji aren’t far behind and along with the other teams will give them a great run for their money. The winner of this tournament will gain entry to the 2010 four nations tournament involving Australia, NZ and England to be staged in the southern hemisphere.
The European Nations- This is the tournament I am most looking forward to. It involves Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Serbia, Russia and Lebanon. I tip Wales to take out this tournament despite them missing out on a place in the 2008 world cup. The existence of a super league team is a huge advantage. There is fairly even competition across the board in this tournament with Serbia the only one tipped to struggle. It will be staged in various countries with the final to be played in bridgend Wales
Four Nations- This is the money making tournament. Involving Australia, New Zealand, England and newcomers France it promises to draw great crowds and draw a decent profit (hopefully used to promote the game in up and coming countries) As usual Australia are heavy favourites. Both world champions NZ (as shown in the past) and England hold a chance of taking it out though. France is somewhat of an unknown.
Other smaller low profile competitions will take place such as the Euro Bowl and the Mediterranean Cup.
I guess your optimism should be admired but there is such a thing as reality. Its time for RL to wake up if it is to survive. stop chasing fantasies and protect the little it has got.
If a rugby league world cup included criteria such as at leats 1% of a population should have at least heard of the sport, the tournament would be even more crippled.. Thats clearly not a requirement, of course, but how little does a cup then matter. RL ought to focus on saving its club-game if thats not too late.
RL in europe is seriously struggling. The club game is frankly hovering just above sustainabilty as a pro-game. Crowds are down, while they are up everywhere in RU. The growth in RU includes a rapidly increasing salary cap, making it unlikely RL can hold onto even a fraction of its young talent in the future.
RL ought to consider going semi-pro but at the very least should be careful about emphasing an international game, when it cant realistically hold onto its new talent.