It is time for rugby league to to grow the game in USA and Europe.
Perhaps instead of chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow the game should be looking closer to home the Pacific.
The recent rise of the Pacific Nations, Tonga in particularly has been an exciting revelation.
Rugby league's international showpiece is the World Cup. Every four years the best teams get together and other than Tonga's recent rise the World Cup has been dominated by Australia, New Zealand and England.
Apart from sporadic Test matches the international calendar has not been designed to accommodate the growth of Pacific Nations, something that is very disappointing for fans
There will be international representation in the future 9's competition that will open seasons to come but nothing in regards to full on 13-a-side test.
This is a huge hole in the growth and exposure as the game still needs to embellish rugby league into predominantly rugby union strongholds of the Pacific Nations.
The gap in between major competition also tempts some players to play for the tier one nations of Australia and New Zealand which continuously weakens the tier two nations such as Tonga and Samoa.
A suggestion to grow the game and to enable NRL players to represent their heritage is to incorporate a Pacific Nations Cup every four years on the alternative years of the World Cup year. In simple, a rotation of the World Cup then two years later a Pacific Nations Cup ongoing.
This is how the competition would work:
-2 groups of
-4 winners of each group playing in final
4. Papua New Guinea
5. Cook Islands
6. Australian Indigenous
7. Aotearoa New Zealand Maori
8. Winner of Play off between other emerging Pacific Nations
Teams such as Aotearoa New Zealand Maori and Australian Indigenous to have their own representation may cause some controversy. However, the prospect is exciting.
The tournament should be taken to all corners of the Pacific and with the international rugby league governing body getting right behind the potential of the competition assisting financially and administratively.
By building on the success of the last World Cup a Pacific Nations Cup has all the hallmarks of what success looks like. Large loud enthusiastic crowds that only International games can produce.
A see of Red of Tonga, complete madness in Papua New Guinea who worship NRL players akin to that of India and Indian Cricket Players receive, mixed with the passion and pride of both Australian and Aotearoa Indigenous and non Indigenous fans would make for an amazing atmosphere.
Over to you international rugby league board you have a cash cow ready and waiting. You just need to open your eyes to the potential.
As a side note, the resumption of Kangaroo and British Lions tours have been slated. It would be great if an Indigenous Australian team could be scheduled to play on the itinerary of all British Tours.
Please let us know if a Pacific Nations Cup would be something you would like to see.
I think it would be cool but star players do have huge seasons. From preseason to all stars to the 26 round comp plus SOO and internationals that pop up. Then come end of year finals footy and international comps such as World Cup and 4 nations. Players such as Kayln Ponga, Dane Gagai and others will likely feature in all these games.
I think the competition you are talking about would be good minus the Indigenous and Maori teams and instead having the 8 teams be Tonga, Samoa, PNG, Cook Islands, Fiji, USA and 2 teams through qualifying 1 from Asia/Pacific the other from North/South America. And have this competition start during origin and finish at the same time, and because origin plays 1 game every 3 weeks have the comp run for 9 weeks (6 rounds 1 bye and 2 finals round). Then have the 3 biggest games being played of the weekends of origin and have no NRL games those 3 weekends.
For example: origin 1 that weekend have headline Tonga v Samoa to start the comp then origin 2 have Fiji v PNG as a headline and the final the weekend of origin 3. Obviously you would build up to the main match ie PNG v USA, Fiji v Cook Is. and the ln the headline. This would give the international teams more players to choose from and also give games more views as there are no NRL games. During the other round when NRL is being played and Origin isn’t you’d play games that wouldn’t get as much views and international teams have to play with non contracted players given more opportunities to lesser known players. In these rounds the qualifying teams and others such as Cook Is. would thrive against biggest teams like Samoa and Tonga as these bigger teams wouldn’t have there main players.
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