A busy year of RL has passed by. What has the year achieved as far as the code is concerned?
World Cup Year.
The Good: The number of top tier nations grew as some players who normally turn out for the strongest nations instead took advantage of birth or heritage connections to switch allegiance. This lead to improved knock out matches that were much closer than last time.
The Bad: Nations that relied less on heritage players didn't fare nearly as well and this led to some pool games that were lopsided. The Australian public didn't turn out like they should for such an event (no real surprise there) and the assigning of where games were played was seemingly designed to add to that problem.
The Good: There were so many more of them. New nations are taking up the game and wanting to play other countries. Some of the initiatives have been most impressive.
The Bad: The RLIF has limited resources and some of the countries coming to the game may fold as quickly as they arrived without support.
The Good: Within Europe much effort and money is being spent developing coaching and officiating standards, funded by government and well utilised by the RLEF.
The Bad: The most powerful group within the game now seems to be the professional clubs in Australia. They will look after themselves (very human and very Australian) so that development is a concern.
The Good: North America offers so much and there are people who are keen to start up teams to play (initially at least) in Europe. The money and player opportunities are huge, but it needs managing carefully.
The Bad: The lack of any expansion or vision within the professional scene in Australasia for some years now continued unabated. It relies on its existing popularity but isn't growing as it should be.
Summary. While the good and bad may appear about even, in terms of the points raised, overall there is more good than bad going on...for now. The lack of funds to expand and at times the lack of will by those with the most power is a concern. The Southern Hemisphere is where RL is strongest but the Northern Hemisphere is where the most exciting potential is. It's up to NH RL to make sure the staid, self absorbed SH doesn't hold it back.