Reviving International Rugby League: Unity for Future Success

Rugby League’s Future Hinges on Unity Across Nations

Rugby League, a sport with a limited global footprint, must prioritize unity among its participating nations to ensure the survival of the international game, particularly in the northern hemisphere. Saturday’s clash between France and England in Toulouse shed light on the dire state of International Rugby League, marred by a lack of promotion, subpar production, dismal attendance, and an uncompetitive scoreline.

The Power Shift and Its Consequences

The gradual power shift towards the NRL in Australia has coincided with the relegation of International Rugby League to an afterthought. The Super League war of the 1990s established the English game as the dominant force, but the NRL’s rise has come at the expense of the international stage.

One key factor is the allure of State of Origin, the historic rivalry between New South Wales and Queensland, which the Australians believe can rival, if not eclipse, the international game.

While State of Origin has coexisted with the international game, the past 20 years have seen a shift in focus, with the NRL’s self-interest overtaking the international game.

Reviving the Fortunes of International Rugby League

To revive the fortunes of International Rugby League, the RFL and Super League must seek the NRL’s assistance through investment, strategic planning, and support. This could include the NRL subsidizing English teams and Super League when recruiting players, as well as the outright sale of Super League to the NRL, a move that would be feasible given the NRL’s substantial assets and revenue.

A revitalized Super League, coupled with increased inter-competition games like the World Club Challenge, could help the English game regain traction in Australia, paving the way for a rejuvenated International Rugby League. The plan must be long-term, with the sport’s survival in the northern hemisphere taking precedence over any short-term gains.

The Tipping Point and the Way Forward

If this unity and cooperation between the NRL and the RFL/Super League does not materialize, the future of International Rugby League hangs in the balance. The tipping point is here, and the northern hemisphere must sell itself to the NRL or risk the collapse of its international game.

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