What Effect Would A Failed World Cup Have On Rugby League In Great Britain?

For a few years now a lot of people in Great Britain have invested all of their hopes and dreams in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup being a success.

Whether that means it is a financial success, that the competition gains enough national attention to boost the domestic game, or just that England plays well during the competition, there is a lot riding on the World Cup giving the game a positive boost in some way.

So what happens if that doesn’t happen? What happens if the World Cup is a dismal failure?

The game in Great Britain can not afford for the World Cup to be a financial failure. The 2000 World Cup pushed Rugby League in Great Britain to the wall and it is fair to suggest that the game still has never really recovered from that. With Rugby League’s financial situation in Great Britain dire at best, you would think that the 2013 World Cup failing could be a final hammer blow to the game that sends its spiraling towards semi professionalism.

When the 2000 World Cup financially crippled the Rugby Football League, the ARL and NZRL stepped up and toured England for the next five straight seasons. Every single World Club Challenge game was played there for the next decade. I can’t see that happening again.

A lot of people expect England to do well on the field. You have to remember that the RFL doesn’t care about Wales, Scotland or Ireland whatsoever. How they play is of little importance to most people in the game unfortunately. Everything rides on the success of England and you can see that in the amount of marketing that surrounds the England team compared to the marketing being done for anyone else.

If England play poorly at the World Cup, how will people react? While many people are aiming for Australia, and forgetting all about the World Champion New Zealand team, I tend to think England should be worried about the likes of Samoa and Tonga. If England starts getting smashed by Australia (Which will happen), are unable to beat New Zealand (Which I have no doubt about), and then start losing to the likes of Samoa or Tonga, how will people in England react?

For some reason people were shocked at how terrible England were in the 2008 World Cup. There is no doubt their performance in that tournament had a flow on effect to the game. Now even people in northern England don’t think much of their national team.

As for national recognition, that is a fairy-tale. For a game that spends all of its time and effort on a small part of northern England, why would anyone anywhere else bother taking notice of Rugby League if Rugby League spends most if its time ignoring them!

Rugby League in Great Britain has a number of major issues that will not be cured by the World Cup. If anything I see the World Cup as a sideshow to distract peoples attention from the problems the game is facing. Once the worlds best players leave and head back home, what will be left behind? The same old problems and the same old administrators.

That will not change even if the World Cup is a success.

The 2013 World Cup isn’t a silver bullet for Rugby League in Great Britain. Its made of lead, and its going into the base of its skull.

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6 thoughts on “What Effect Would A Failed World Cup Have On Rugby League In Great Britain?

  1. Yet again, you demonstrate your complete ignorance of British Rugby League.

    Only one sport matters in England – football. All of the other sports put together cannot come close to the power and popularity of football.

    If people in London wanted to watch RL, they would have a RL team.

    They are not interested in the game. Neither are the people in Berlin or San Francisco. Because you are Aussie, you think that RL is a big sport. It isn’t.

    Over my lifetime ( 30 years ), football in England has got bigger and bigger.

    Why isn’t cricket popular in France ??????????????

  2. It’s a very polite response, League Freak.

    However, it is YOU who is whinging.

    You whinge that RL is not popular in London. Why don’t you whinge about the fact that cricket is not popular in Tokyo ? Why don’t you whinge about the fact that Aussie Rules is not popular in Sweden ???

    The sporting scene in Britain is static. It does not change. We don’t really have the “expansion” concept in Britain. Sports are popular in the areas where they have always been popular.

    Look at the games recently played by Man Unitd and Liverpool in Australia. Huge crowds. Lots of interest.

    If the South Sydney Rabbitohs played at Wembley in a similar exhibition match, how many people would go to watch ???

    400 ?? 650 ??

    You’ve got to try to understand that RL is not a big sport outside Qland and NSW. Never has been. Never will be !!!!

  3. I digress

    PNG is the only country in the world that has Rugby League as its national sport . The game is continuing to grow in Fiji and Samoa. The game is also continuing to grow in New Zealand where it is becoming a huge part of the culture. SO too say that Rugby League is only big in QLD and NSW is such a false statement.

  4. There really is no point trying to expand RL beyond the north. The rest of the country is heavily football orientated and to a lesser degree RU. It is perceived as a northern sport for the working class, this wont change. At this rate Aus/Nz playing against England will be an even bigger waste of time. A Cumbrian side in super league would be a welcome addition. However I fear we will simply become a feeder league for the NRL.

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