Game plan for world cups

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Game plan for world cups

Postby Northern_Union » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:40 am ... -World-Cup
Rugby league has a far from glittering history when it comes to World Cups.

In 1935 France proposed staging a World Cup for the 13-man code, but it wasn't until 1954 that the competition eventually got under way, with Great Britain beating their French hosts 16-12 in the final. Since then, World Cups have been held between every two and 12 years, competed for by four to 16 countries and taken between 10 days and three years to complete.

It's fair to say that league has been an embarrassment in organising a showpiece event and it could be argued that this has been a contributing factor in the inability to grow the game out of its traditional strongholds.

Thankfully, that is about to change with World Cups confirmed to be held every four years from here on in. Years either side of the World Cups are Four Nations tournaments, leaving a gap in the middle of the cycle for events such as a British Lions tour Down Under, something that's on the agenda for 2015.

Rugby League International Federation chairman Scott Carter believes falling into line with other sports that are based around a four-year cycle is hugely important for the game.

"With most sports the World Cup is considered the pinnacle of the game, it is the show piece," Carter said.

"For the RLIF, it is the major commercial property that the international body owns.

"To get value, you don't want to be going up against other major sporting events, such as the Olympics and Rugby World Cup.

"There was a not very successful World Cup in 2000, then it was eight years before there was a successful World Cup in Australia in 2008.

"We made a conscious decision in 2009 that we'd settle into a four-year cycle and we chose what we considered was a gap year between Olympic Games, Rugby World Cup and the Winter Olympics."

With a proper international structure in place it should give the World Cup more significance and, like in other sports, allow players to shape their careers around it.

In making the World Cup a regular event, Carter hopes it will make it more attractive to broadcasters and sponsors, if the structure is right.

"Getting the cycle is one thing, recognising the role of the World Cup and why it's important is another," he said.

"Yes, it earns the most money for the international federation, money that's sorely needed for the game around the world.

"In order for it to be commercially successful you need to be able to sell broadcast and commercial rights.

"The drivers for media and companies is an attractive competition with contestable fixtures.

"The balance for all of this is to decide on how many teams you should have, so you don't turn it into a farce in terms of qualifying or non event fixtures.

"We have a responsibility to develop the game, so the proceeds go into annual grants to nations that can demonstrate initiative and robust structures in their own countries and start fielding more competitive teams.

"There has been a lot of work that's gone into developing second tier competitions, like the European Cup, which has been very successful."

- © Fairfax NZ News
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