The weekend has again created controversy after the pursuit of instant gratification and lack of focus on what really matters in nations has seen another nation joining the growing list of angst among rugby league nations. The upsets of France and England by sides full of Australian and New Zealand players in USA and Italy, albeit against a solid English side that mentally may have not turned up, has put a shadow over the big issues in such nations with the apparent attitude that they will go not away without effective resolutions.
The unlikely wins of what fans are calling the “Australia-Italy” side and “United States of Australia” and has been labelled an historic and famous victories. The teams have arrived in the Northern hemisphere causing upsets with an early life in rugby league and giving the impression similar to the Jamaican Bobsled 1988 Winter Olympics wonder story, except in reality littered with Australian players from NRL clubs and their feeder clubs who have stated pre-RLWC they will play for USA or Italy until they can be given a chance in State of Origin or for Australia or knocked back by another nation and are “hopeful of getting a professional contract after the World Cup”. I’m sure the players want to make people in the country proud without saying it, but truth is no one will know it is on!
Hardcore international fans and those who are speaking out have been asking the question can this World Cup really be credible. Their approaches are based on a quick grab and hiding the problems beneath the glamour rather than genuine development in the nation, while creating farces and angst among the people involved in those nations. Post RLWC from what is being circulated online could result in little clubs left in the official USA competition after the backlash of US rugby league people with the USARL body having a strong stable competition, youth and lower grade teams and an ignored Italian rebels group who are developing rugby league strongly, they have said over 50 teams in only 4 seasons, the official body has claimed 10 in 18 years. Isn’t it obvious after 3 years of splits the rebels from both nations they are committed?
The Italians and American authorities running rugby league from Australia speak of opportunities, great development work and impressive rise in player performance in the nation, but the real evidence exposing very much the opposite. A federation that spends many years and funding to develop rugby league in the country and develop the players, but results in a championship over a couple of weeks and overwhelming that the “strong domestic development” is more a half-hearted PR stunt to appease rugby league’s officials, while unable to provide full evidence and political statements ignoring the issues and questioning of fans. The players given an impression they will have an opportunity to go to a World Cup, but has resulted in disappointment, heart ache and damage. Why spend money on a half-hearted approach in the country when the result will be scouring every corner of top competitions in Australia, shouldn’t they keep spending on the development in Australia instead?
Success can be credited but not with PR stunts and routine regurgitated quotes like “phenomenal growth”, “great effect on players in..” and “it shows great development and growth here” after using so many heritage players but real lack of growth. The 2017 RLWC should be given the green light to Australia. We all know it will save a lot of money and logistical work as very similarly to the last few decades it will still show a local scene with lack of results, press releases with BIG this and GREAT that and it is shows exciting development but no prove of it. Rugby League Growth should reflect the movement in a country.
The Rugby League Spotlight can reveal a number of European nations behind the scenes WANT CHANGE (without naming) with a big rift exposed among the grapevine and PRESSURE falls directly on Danny Kazandjian. The loss of RLEF Major Sponsorship of AlItalia (50k) after it is revealed the decision to minimise the European Cup and replace a nation with the England A team is what caused the AlItalia to walk out. While, the continuing farce favourable treatment toward one nation nation and ignoring the split in Italy ranks is ranked highly in terms of embarrassment to some nations. Other complaints have been lack of ongoing and more effective coaching and refereeing resources, claiming nations good development as RLEF work after no RLEF involvement (or little) and rugby league going backward, stagnant or nearly extinct in member federations such as Ireland, Italy, Germany, Russia, Morocco and others. There is even a concerning rift in Super league and clubs demand change. While he has stated to be a mediator of the Italian issues, but any fan can see the disagreements have went worse between the two federations with inaction, apart from copy and paste press releases.
The French rugby league public has now joined the long line of fans not happy with the farcical developments with one top French club stating “In France everyday this is a battle to built something. Héritage players kill all our work.” “Next time France will play with David Fifita, Paleasina, Temata, Vinnie Anderson, Troy Savage, Dane Chisholm, Dominique Peyroux, Scott Dureau, Tony Duggan, Ryan O’Hara maybe Remi Casty and why not Steve Menzies or Leon Pryce ?” There have been other leaks of issues the French…
The media media exposure of teams labelled Italian and USA national teams WITHIN THEIR OWN COUNTRY is reminiscent of crickets in grazing paddocks – fans and people in the game on both Rebel Federations have said this is because the very little player representation and those national sides are organised predominantly Australian group in Australia with Australian Media Managers targeting Sydney media – another farce?! Rebel groups have had more major and national media exposure in papers and television from their domestic competitions. But increasing the awareness of the USA and Italy sides to the Australian Rugby league publics is a great initiative. Hoping will not deliver.
It can be revealed a number of International Rugby League websites have publicly stated on their twitter accounts and websites they have been threatened with legal action by the Federazione Italiana Rugby League and previously by the old AMNRL board with websites promoting the issues.
One rugby league fan put it very well:
“My issue is specifically with the Italians. I consider myself well read when it comes to international RL, but have never read a single word suggesting that there is any local interest – the occasional game is played over there, and they can draw on “rugby” players in their off season. I would be astonished if this result got any coverage at all in Italy. I would eat humble pie if anyone can show me a link to any local reporting of this game or anything to do with Italian RL. I cannot see how it can be beyond our game to devise minimum guidelines for participation in the World Cup, if 1) we want to avoid looking ridiculous and 2) we believe there is some ongoing purpose to letting nations play, such as some development/investment. Perhaps we could look at player numbers, coverage, levels of investment, minimum numbers of local players in the group. It would not be hard. From what I have read, they are the worst examples. In the USA, they have been playing for a long time, and clearly have massive schism issues, but there are some green shoots. Likewise, purely by their proximity, I can see the logic behind Scotland and Ireland taking part. The RFL can run competitions there. Italy has nothing going for it. Within 7 days, this group of Sydneysiders on tour with funny names can succeed in making England a “laughing stock” (as per Fox Sports) and defeating a Welsh team at home, which is looking to build on genuine foundations for the first time in its 100 years, and trying heroically to do so, if I may say. The tragedy is the sheer pointlessness of it all.”
It is obvious the RLEF need to act and RLEF needs change before the credibility and development of the nations is damaged more. Nations in future need to have greater domestic development with a compromise of 50-75% and if true growth cannot be shown than do not have a large World Cup. If transparency and reforms from the start would avoid these issues. How can any genuine sporting person accept rugby league nations run on the other side of the world? The need to be an executive but in a overseas groups and money chasers (see failed USA backroom deals) is the self-interest that is stopping the game uniting. Act now, stand up!