It’s Time For International Rugby League To Showcase Everything It Has To Offer

We are just hours away from a new look Australian Kangaroos team taking on New Zealand in a rare test match played in New Zealand. It should be a good game, but honestly, it isn’t the match that I am most excited about this off season.

When Australia plays Tonga next week, then I will be really excited!

NZRL officials have been reported to be a little miffed about the fact that ticket sales for Australia vs Tonga in NZ have sold better than tickets for the Kiwis home clash with the World Champions.

The NZRL is a real disaster zone right now. Kiwi’s look at the mess that has been created and just seem to have a sense of apathy about the whole set up the NZRL have running. Contrast that with the buzz created by the Tongan community in New Zealand, who gathered in their thousands to welcome their test team to New Zealand, who have bought jerseys, flags, and tickets to the match against the Kangaroos.

It shows there is an appetite for international Rugby League that doesn’t involve the same old teams playing one another over and over again.

Last weekend and Australian Prime Ministers XIII played against Papua New Guinea. This has been an annual clash for a long time now, and people were interested in the game, but there was no media contract in place to broadcast the match. It came down to the chairman of the ARL, Peter Beattie, live streaming the match through a mobile device on Twitter. It was and admiral effort, but clearly a long way from where a professional sport should be.

Remember that moment the next time a mainstream media type questions the NRL pushing to create a digital media distribution centre….

These games might now be headline events to the general public, but there is no question that there are a lot of people who want to see these matches. There is an audience out there ready to spend their time watching these games, and all of those people can justify broadcasting matches and selling advertising to all of those sets of eyeballs.

To the NRL/ARL’s credit, they are doing a pretty good job of trying to push for more coverage for these type of matches. With representative round coming in, teams like Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Fiji and the like now have an opportunity to play regular matches that are broadcast during the season. They can have buildups to these matches, they can offer a start to players who not too long ago couldn’t get a game unless a World Cup was being played.

Peter Beattie in a tweet yesterday said that the ARL was looking to push reforms at the RLIF that were “much needed”. He said this as he has been meeting with officials in various organisations around the pacific, all of whom have been pushing for more games, more exposure, more money, but most importantly getting more of a say about how the international game is run and scheduled.

From a pure content point of view Rugby League has so much to offer broadcasters with regular end of season tests between so many great Rugby League playing nations. France, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Canada…they all need more games. They all need to be showcased. They all need to play one another more often, a move that would lift playing standards. These seven nations from all over the world find it really hard to get get what they deserve, and finally the tide is turning.

All of it needs to flow off the back of the economic giant in the Rugby League playing world….Australia. That is why Australia needs to take the lead for these nations.

From a broadcasting standpoint these is a lot of content to sell from these teams playing one another. I think we are seeing many of these nations standing up for themselves, realizing that, and looking to get what they have deserved for so long.

I don’t care if the NZRL is upset at these moves. I don’t care if the RFL will have its nose pput out of joint by a RLIF takeover by the southern hemisphere powerhouses of the sport. The change isn’t coming, it is happening already…and the contrast can be seen between the old way we’ve done things in this Aus vs NZ test, and the new way we should be doing things with all of the excitement surrounding the test between Aus and Tonga.

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