The International Rugby League should be dissolved. That is the only conclusion you can come to after watching the absolute disaster that has been the fallout of the 2022 Rugby League World Cup.
After the IRL spent years talking about the “World Cup legacy” it wanted to leave behind, International Rugby League now finds itself in a situation where the next World Cup host is unknown, the number of teams participating in that World Cup is unknown, and the European Championship has been cancelled as a result.
Who could have predicted that running the most bloated World Cup in history would have led to a tournament that has obviously lost a boatload of money. This is the 2000 World Cup all over again where we were told the World Cup was in profit “before a ball has even been kicked” only to find out over the next few years that the tournament lost so much money that it put the survival of Rugby League in the UK in jeopardy!
The 2022 Rugby League World Cup was supposed to be held in 2021. Unfortunately the Covid pandemic was in full swing at that point and it was clear that the World Cup needed to be postponed.
The International Rugby League, in an absolutely pig-headed manner, refused to postpone the competition. To the point where it was left to New Zealand and Australia to lead the way, pulling out of the tournament and forcing its postponement.
With an extra year to get everything in order, the IRL still couldn’t manage to make their World Cup work.
Too many teams, lopsided scorelines, poor venue choices, a tournament structure that meant the first three weeks of the competition meant little to nothing, and shock horror, Australia won it. Couple that with a women’s World Cup which was a shocking non-event, a wheelchair World Cup and the disability World Cup…..imagine how much was spent to make sure everyone in all of these competitions had their travel arrangements and accomodation covered.
Is it any wonder so much money was lost?
While all of this was going on the IRL and World Cup organisers were taking victory laps and patting themselves on the back. As patrons lamented the high ticket prices and lack of merchandise available at games, the organisers were congratulating themselves on the best World Cup the game has ever had.
Less than a year later….look where this World Cup has put us.
It is clear the next World Cup should be a much smaller competition. It should be a tournament whose participants are by invitation only. Rugby League is not soccer. Rugby League needs to run a tight ship, put on international tournaments that are competitive, exciting, and most importantly, ones that don’t lose money.
The World Cup is not a vehicle to just play games. It needs to be the best teams in the World playing one another.
Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, England, France. There’s your World Cup. We do not need any other teams. It doesn’t need to be played over a month and a half.
Play it as a straight knockout tournament and we would get a worthy World Champion out of the mix. Quick, simple, every game matters. That is what Rugby League needs out of a World Cup.
The wasteful International Rugby League and everyone that is part of that organisation needs to lose their jobs. They do not add anything to the game and have shown they are incapable of promoting the world or even running a World Cup.
It might not be a popular idea, but try telling me that if the NRL took over running the international game they’d have it in a worse situation than we find ourselves in right now.