Once again the International Origin match has failed to provide the game with what it needs. England has not got the hit out it wanted, the Exiles team is getting worse and worse as the quality of Super League imports falls, fans are simply staying away and not buying into the concept…there is simply no reason to continue with this series at all.
As England loses its best players to the National Rugby League we will see the quality of the in season English side fall away as well. Last night England were missing a dozen of their best players who ply their trade in the NRL, this is not something that will be happening in the distant future, it is something that is happening right now. I believe this makes it the right time for England and France to play a three test series in the middle of the season.
France is slowly developing as a Rugby League nation. They have always had potential, and now that we are seeing NRL clubs looking to sign some of their better player, France could very quality become a nation to contend with for the likes of England, Samoa and Tonga.
As England and France lose players, younger players will step into the breach. Those young players can not be forgotten. They are the future of both nations test teams and they need just as much development as elite players do.
I believe that in the coming seasons an England vs France test series would become more and more competitive. I have no doubt that France would have given England a better hit out last night than the Exiles did!
In the past the reason England and France have not been playing games is because the games are supposedly uncompetitive and fans have no interest in attending the match. I don’t believe those two issues could be any worse than what we have seen in the International Origin game in the last few years.
As the NRL develops the elite talent for England and France, both nations can continue to develop their depth by playing one another. If properly promoted I have no doubt the French would turn out to watch their national side take on England. While it may be harder to sell in England, the RFL have the opportunity to persist with developing an international scene that it can sell to fans.
Over time what I would like to see is England playing games against France mid season, and then playing games after the club season against the likes of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and the United States. This is something Australia and New Zealand don’t tend to do, its an advantage the RFL has and something they can use to sell to broadcasters as well as sponsors.
Anything has to be better than what we saw last night. Why would we continue to embarrass the game with a made up exhibition team? When the alternative is having same contest but develop two nations as well as developing a market for real international football, I know which option Id be going with!
Lets hope the RFL see’s some sense and starts to play more international football. There is no doubt England needs to lead the way in the northern hemisphere. If done well, it could be the television content and expansion vehicle the Rugby Football League really needs right now. It could be the advantage the game in the northern Hemisphere ends up having against the Rugby League powerhouses of the south.
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