A couple of years ago a great idea was put forward to enter a Fijian team into the NSW Cup lower grade competition. The basic idea was to have a Fijian club in the NSW state cup competition that mirrors the PNG Hunters involvement in the Queensland Cup.
The depth of talent Fiji produces in Rugby League is staggering. There are dozen of truly elite players born and raised in Fiji in both the NRL and Super League competitions. To have a direct pathway into the NRL structure would be incredible for Fijian players.
Last week the Australian Rugby Union, in partnership with “World Rugby” announced they they would fund a Fijian team in the NRC, the ARU’s national club competition. It is basically the exact same idea that the Fijian NSWRL bid wants to have put in place except Rugby Union isn’t waiting around for it to happen….they are funding it and putting a team in place as soon as possible.
It is a great move for the ARU, for Fijian Rugby Union, and for “World Rugby” as well.
Rugby Union just stole the inside line on Rugby League in Rugby League’s own backyard. Well done to everyone involved.
Last weekend we saw Perth host a test match between Australia and New Zealand in front of a sellout crowd at nib Stadium. All the usual NRL types were there getting selfies with the right people, holding fan forums, thanking everyone for supporting the game….and yet in 2016 and with a massive war chest accumulate to propagate the growth of the game, the best NRL administrators can say to the people of Perth is that “Some day” they might get an NRL team of their own to follow.
The NRL is lucky enough to have a private consortium willing to invest in hosting the Auckland 9’s event. Every year the competition makes a lot of money for the NRL and its clubs. A lot of people would like to see the Auckland 9’s opened up an an international event that brings together Rugby League clubs and nations from all over the world to showcase the rich international talent pool Rugby League boasts.
The same private consortium in 2017 is hosting a Rugby Union event in Brisbane, based on the NRL Auckland 9’s. The Rugby 10’s will boast international Rugby Union clubs and teams from all over the world to showcase the rich international talent pool Rugby Union boasts.
Bids for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup have been finalized and very soon the Rugby League International federation will have to decide is the tournament is hosted in England….again….or the United States.
Rugby League is in very rude health in the United States and Canada. The bid team for the 2021 tournament has a lot of experience hosting international events, working with broadcasters and sponsors, and using big events to promote sport at a grassroots level.
There is a feeling among those within the United States bid that the country is ready to host a “big Rugby event” and either Rugby League will get in first and establish itself in a position of being first, or it will sit back and watch Rugby Union do it.
Do you see the theme here?
Rugby League use to be a sport that was confident in itself. Show the world Rugby League and they will love it. How else do you find Rugby League starting off an an alternative to Rugby Union in areas where Rugby Union is thoroughly established, and yet Rugby League gets going. Rugby League grows. You show the world Rugby League and they tend to love it!
In 2016 Rugby League has turned into a sport that is terrified of taking a chance. That just accepts that no one else knows or cares about the game. The games power brokers have meetings about when they will have their next meetings about when they might consider for just a moment that they will look at considering showcasing the game in an “expansion”.
Rugby League has become far too cautious, far too timid, and terrified of giving the green light to any plans that may see the game grow at all levels, from the grassroots, all the way through to the professional game.
Rugby League heartlands are anywhere the game is played. Western Sydney. Central Queensland. Serbia. Hull. Pennsylvania. Dubbo. Toulouse. Port Moresby. Ipswich. Suva. Rotterdam. Rugby League is played all over the world, and every single field that see’s 26 players run out to play the greatest game of all is Rugby League territory.
The world knows about Rugby League. Where ever we get a foot in the door, the world asks for more.
What are we waiting for? Why aren’t we striking while the iron is hot?