Just a quick thought. The Rugby League World Cup has received some criticism for the low attendance of some matches and the predictability of the skewed results. There is a yawning chasm between the Rugby League world powers of Australia, England and New Zealand and the rest of the world. Betting on any nation other than the big three to win would be financial madness. The myriad of other participating nations, known collectively as developing league nations, sadly contribute little other than to make up the numbers at each tournament.
On Monday 18th November, Australian Rugby League coach Wayne Bennett gave a rebuttal to critics of the tournament, saying “what people have to realise is that this is not just about Australia, New Zealand and England, this is about the rest of the world. And this is not about now, this is about where we want the game to be in 40 years”
That comment says a lot, considering the history of the tournament. The Rugby League World Cup began in 1954 and has been held roughly every four years ever since. In those thirteen tournaments Australia has won a whopping nine times. Great Britain won three times prior to the four constituent nations entering separately from the 1995 tournament on. New Zealand, long a contender, won it’s first world title in 2008. Aside from England, there aren’t any credible challengers for Australia and New Zealand to contest against. This is a reflection of the code’s patchy popularity around the world.
Bennett is hoping that in 40 years time the tournament might have grown enough to deserve it’s vaunted title of being a World Cup. You certainly need to have optimism in any uphill battle, but the tournament will be 99 years old by then. Perhaps the the critics have a stronger argument than those buried within the 13 man code actually realize?