Sunday, 15 October 2017

RL's International Calendar Improvement

Nations such as Serbia and Greece need to play more often

Most people who malign RL point at its lack of international scope. There are three main nations who regularly invite one other nation to make up a four nations tournament at the end of a season (this year it won't be held due to the World Cup). Otherwise international RL is limited. So what can be done?

One option is to turn the Four Nations into a biannual event and the alternative year do something that includes other nations that play the game. If the alternative is a huge success, maybe it could take over and the four nations be put to bed altogether. The alternative could be divided into each hemisphere.

Southern: There could be a six nation competition, involving Australia, NZ, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and PNG. It could also be a first division of four and a second division of three, with the Cook Is being added. The loser of the first tier and winner of the second would swap for the following time it's played.

Failing that, a six team international tournament excluding Australia could be held concurrently with State of Origin matches, negating the ridiculous split round system and providing four top games for each of those three weekends.

Benefit. Either system would give more games to the island nations that provide excellent entertainment that people would want to watch, either live or by media.

Northern: As a biannual alternative to the Four Nations tournament, have two divisions. One could be England, France, Scotland and Wales. The second division could be made up of Ireland, USA, Canada and Serbia. The loser of tier one drops into tier two, with the winner of the lower division promoted. The loser of division two could be challenged by the highest ranked team not involved.

In addition, I'm thinking the Magic Weekend in Super League could be scrapped and a Northern Nations Nines tournament be held (Toronto, Newcastle, Paris possible venues for a start). Teams representing the home nations and Ireland, USA, Canada, and a selection of European nations could make up the numbers.

Benefit. This will give players in dozens of countries opportunity to learn and an incentive to improve.

Summary: Apart from the WC, the current system is doing virtually nothing to improve the game internationally. RL can only prosper if it keeps thinking of ways to do things better.

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