All the profits from the 2008 Rugby League World Cup will go into a fund to develope Rugby League around the world. On top of this there is $2,000,000 in prize money on offer that will be spread across all ten World Cup teams depending on where they finish the tournament.
This is all fantastic news for the international game, considering there has NEVER been a central fund for international Rugby League and that the World Cup held in 2000 was a financial black hole that lost millions of dollars.
When the ARL set out to run the 2008 World Cup, one of their main focuses was to keep the competition and its finances seperate from the NRL, ARL, NZRL the RFL or any of their sponsors or media partners.
This means that any money the World Cup makes will go straight back into the International game, it will not be filtered off or dissapear into the contracts for club football around the world.
It will be a massive boost to have some money available for the international game.
While many countries have no problems securing funding to develope the game, there are other countries that rely on donations just to get things like jerseys, footballs and goal posts.
Some developing Rugby League nations have gone cap in hand to Rugby Union organizations in their countries, only to find that once the game started to grow and show some promise, those Union bodies cut off funding and in some cases cases banned their own players and clubs from having any part of The Greatest Game Of All.
There are contries where Rugby League is being funded by a single person who runs every aspect of the game. Other countries meanwhile survive on handouts by the various Rugby League organizations in other countries as well as handouts by clubs.
All of these things will probably still go on after 2008, but the fact is the nations that just need a bit of a kick along to make something of themselves will now be able to ask for funding from the International Rugby League Federation, and they have to be a hell of a lot friendlier than some Rugby Union organization!
I also tend to think that having a good deal of prize money on offer in the Rugby League World Cup will spur on developing nations who will know that if they push hard and can just qualify for the next World Cup, they will secure a good amont of funding.
One thing I would hope gets done with the money available after the World Cup is to set up and fully fund the running of a European and Pacific Islands Cups at the end of every season.
The likes of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Ireland, Scotland and Wales need to play regular games if they are ever going to attract quality players outside of the World Cup and develope further.
The likes of Samoa in particular are probably not that far behind England and New Zealand, however because there are no assurances they will get a run their best players usually commit to playing for the Kiwis.
Next year its likely we will see a Four Nations competition that will include Australia, England, France and New Zealand. Even if we could add just Tonga or Samoa to that mix, all of a sudden Rugby Leagues international scene at the top end is starting to look pretty handy.
Getting Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the like to step up another level would also de-centralize the need to have Australia, New Zealand and England in every single contest to make any money.
It would be huge for the game if, when Australia heads to England for an Ashes series, New Zealand can play a series against Samoa, meaning that all the major nations get a full International Program, they can play more games, make more money and at the end of the day, improve on the field.
It won’t take much, just a bit of funding and some fearless leadership that puts the fortunes of the game ahead of fears over bad press.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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