In life, the ability to say the word “No” is very important. In fact, I’d go as far as to say our ability to say the word “No” is what our entire society is based around.
You see, for things to run smoothly you need some level of control. You need to be able to have someone that will say “No, you can’t do that” otherwise things just break down.
People are selfish. All of them! If people don’t hear the word “No” from time to time they will keeping taking from everyone around them and they will not care about the consequences.
For the greater good, someone needs to be able to say “No”. That is exactly what international Rugby League is missing….
Petero Civoniceva was born in Fiji and moved to Australia as a youngster. He has an Australian accent as thick as mine.
Throughout his career Civoniceva’s Australian eligibility was questioned, and I defended him. He grew up in Australia and learned how to play Rugby League here. He talked passionately about being a Queenslander and being an Australia. He went on to become the most capped forward in Australian Rugby League history.
After a sorry season in 2012 in which it was clear his career was all but over, Civoniceva chose to retire as a Brisbane Bronco. He then decided to play in the Queensland Cup, which was an interesting decision.
Now Civoniceva, at the age of 37, wants to play in the 2013 World Cup for Fiji.
This is where we have a problem…
You see, for years I tried to defend international Rugby League. I felt like it had lost a lot of credibility, and yet it could still be saved. I felt like if people just stuck with it and gave it a chance, things would turn around and one day we would all watch test matches and be glad that we didn’t give up on international Rugby League.
It just doesn’t deserve a commitment like that any more.
No one runs international Rugby League. Basically young get the ARL, RFL and NZRL sitting around in a room deciding what games they will play. If other nations are lucky, they get an odd look in from time to time, but for the most part they are left to fend for themselves. Once a very basic calender is locked in, that is it.
Now there have always been people that have said to be that the Rugby League International Federation is a real organisation that makes real decisions. Its not. It doesn’t. Do yourself a favour, try sending a letter to the RLIF. Try making a phone call to them. It just does not exist. It is an acronym and a logo. That is all it consists of.
Because there is no governing body controlling the international game, the word “No” doesn’t get uttered. Ever.
If there is a rule in place from long ago that needs to be broken, it gets broken. If there is a problem that needs to be fixed, no one is there to fix it.
What this has lead to is the complete erosion of international Rugby League to the point where it is beyond a farce.
You can not defend it any more. It has become a joke. Any player can play for any team. Coaches and administrators don’t care about things such as integrity or values. They happily go out to recruit players that in some cases have never set foot in a country and invite them to play for them.
Take a look at the Italian team that will be run out at the World Cup at the end of the year. Anthony Minichiello, Anthony Laffranchi and Terry Campese are all likely to run out in Italian jerseys at the next World Cup. All three of them were born and raised in Australia. All three players have represented Australia. They’re not Italian! Alessandro Del Piero. These guys aren’t!
Worst of all, there are real born and bred Italian Rugby League players living in Italy right now. Players who would kill to play for their nation. Players who would laugh off any suggestion of turning out for another country. These are the players that should be in the Italian team. Not a bunch of Aussies who just want to get ANOTHER run at international level because their country of birth won’t select them any more because they are no longer good enough to wear the Green and Gold.
The pinnacle of international Rugby League is when New Zealand takes on Australia. It is the best example of international football we have got.
Good luck explaining to someone why the best front rower in the game, a New Zealander, is playing for Australia against New Zealand. Good luck explaining why Australia sometimes runs out a Fijian winger and why the New Zealand side has so many players in it born and raised in Australia.
International Rugby League is not about different nations competing against one another. It is about logos and acronyms. Its is franchising at best. It is taking a concept that works at club level and translating it to try and sell the game to an audience that has completely switched off.
I don’t watch international Rugby League and see grand contests between nations. I see a game of football and pretend badges on jerseys that mean nothing at all to anyone involved in the game.
No one runs international Rugby League, so no one says the word “No”.
So at the end of the year when 37 year old Petero Civoniceva hobbles out as the most capped forward in Australian Rugby League for Fiji, I won’t blame you if you switch the channel. That a farcical situation like this is allow to happen is inexcusable. That is he probably one of the few players that will be turning out for his country of birth just sums how what a complete and utter joke international Rugby League has become.
Is there a shred of credibility left to salvage in international Rugby League?