So the World Club Challenge has now been expanded and the World Club Series will become the latest cash grab by clubs on both sides of the world. Great, looks like League Freak needs to make another bloody banner for his site!
The NRL Grand Finalists will join a third team and play one off matches against the Super League Grand Finalists and the third ranked team in Super League.
1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, 3 vs 3. Simple enough!
Here are my thoughts on this whole thing…
It’s clear we need to be playing less club games during the NRL regular season. Watching how the 2014 NRL season has played out, some players look worn down. We see teams rise and fall over the course of the season, very few clubs play consistent football, and as we head into the NRL finals series a number of clubs are dealing with injury lists as long as your arm.
If we were playing less NRL regular season games and replacing them with things like the World Club Series, I’d be fine with that. That isn’t what we are dealing with though. This World Club Series is just more games to play on top of the Auckland 9’s, the All Star Game, pre season trials, NRL games, State Of Origin games, and international games.
I don’t care what sport you take as an example, that is a massive workload on players who play a violent contact sport that sees them playing games from late January to November.
I personally wouldn’t want my club heading over to England at the height of their pre season preparations. I would much rather they concentrate on winning the NRL title. Winning the World Club Series might put a bit of extra money in the clubs coffers, but at what cost?
Packing up and heading to England is no small feat. It has worn on every single NRL club that has been forced to make the journey. The NRL salary cap makes it hard for NRL clubs to win back-to-back titles, but it has nothing on asking our Premiers to trash their pre season and go to England.
As an expansionist, I want to see NRL clubs use their influence to spread the word on Rugby League. The World Club Series doesn’t feel like that though. It feels like a cash grab.
What I would love to see happen is the NRL season cut back to 20 games. Stand alone representative weekends. With some time freed up and the workload on players eased, then we can consider a competition like the World Club series.
One major change I would make would be to have the New Zealand Warriors and Catalan Dragons feature in the series. That would give you professional clubs from four different nations taking part in the series, and if we want to have an international club competition, surely that is the way to go. Get as many countries involved as possible. Make it a truly international series.
That then opens up the possibility that the World Club Series can expand to include clubs such as the PNG Hunters who currently play in the QLD Cup, the Fijian NSW Cup team that will be formed in 2016, the United States Rugby League premiers and from there you could invite another international club champion from one of the many Rugby League competitions around the world.
Basically, if you’re going to make a World Club Series, do it right! Make it a truly international competition. Not just a bunch of NRL teams playing a bunch of English sides.
The World Club Series could be the start of Rugby Leagues version of a champions league. To be able to say that we have a competition that shows off the best club sides from Rugby League playing nations from around the world would be something that would help Rugby League expand internationally.
Let’s hope that the administrators of the game are thinking along those lines and not just looking to make a handful of wealthy clubs even wealthier.