Jump to content


Rugby League World Issue 400 - Out Now!

RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 400 - OUT NOW!
84 pages, 38 years of history from Open Rugby to the present day.
Click here for the digital edition to read online via smartphone, tablet and desktop devices including iPhone, iPad, Android & Kindle HD.
Click here to order a copy for delivery by post. Annual subscriptions also available worldwide.
Find out what's inside Issue 400
/ View a Gallery of all 400 covers / WH Smith Branches stocking Issue 400
Read Jamie Jones-Buchanan's Top 5 RLW Interviews including Marwan Koukash, Lee Briers, Gareth Thomas, Steve Ganson & Matt King OBE


League Express

Podcast

Photo
- - - - -

Bring Back GB / Ashes Tests etc (Merged Threads)


  • Please log in to reply
100 replies to this topic

#61 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:10 PM

Well they should have stuck with it. The neutral games and being unable to make sure the hosts make the final is still a bit of an issue though.

I have never really understood the run before you can walk mentality regarding the international game. It would be great if there was a first tier of more than three teams but there just isn't. Games between the big three and the rest tend not to be great viewing. I mean I would much prefer to watch Wales v France or PNG v Samoa than any of those teams getting battered by one of the big boys. The highlight of last World Cup was the second tier teams going hammer and tongs at each other in evenly matched contests.

International rugby league needs to make sure its core product is vibrant and successful before trying to expand. Why they had to expand the World Cup after the success of the last one is beyond me. 10 teams seemed to work well and there weren't any "joke" outfits bringing negative publicity.

#62 Dave T

Dave T
  • Coach
  • 14,165 posts

Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:15 PM

Well they should have stuck with it. The neutral games and being unable to make sure the hosts make the final is still a bit of an issue though.

I have never really understood the run before you can walk mentality regarding the international game. It would be great if there was a first tier of more than three teams but there just isn't. Games between the big three and the rest tend not to be great viewing. I mean I would much prefer to watch Wales v France or PNG v Samoa than any of those teams getting battered by one of the big boys. The highlight of last World Cup was the second tier teams going hammer and tongs at each other in evenly matched contests.

International rugby league needs to make sure its core product is vibrant and successful before trying to expand. Why they had to expand the World Cup after the success of the last one is beyond me. 10 teams seemed to work well and there weren't any "joke" outfits bringing negative publicity.

I have no issues with having to earn your place in the final - but I did prefer it when we had two games against the Kiwis and Aussies. If that can't happen in a 4n, then I'd rather see us revert back to the Tri Nations, although that won't be happening as there is a 7 game 4N in 2014 and 2016.

 

I don't think neutral games were too much of an issue, NZ v Aus got ok crowds in London and Warrington.

 

I agree with you about watching 1st tier teams versus 1st tier teams and 2nd tier versus 2nd tier. Only the best of these should make it to games against the 1st tier. I worry about Ireland in the World Cup, but overall I think they have done the seeding quite well.



#63 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:49 PM

So the current Four Nations format is being retained for 2014 and 2016? It just think the fourth team is too much like fodder at the moment. It think your right that the 2 game Tri Nations is better with warm matches against the second tier teams.

Maybe I am old fashioned but I still think the best of 3 Test series is the best way of generating interest and competitive matches.

Of course with more and more English players in the NRL the prospect of a stronger England side that can beat the Aussies is much more likely.

A truly competitive England could be the real game changer for the international game. That was the catalyst for the boom in the early 1990s.

#64 Rabathos

Rabathos
  • Players
  • 72 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:01 AM

first game for GB they won it

102-0

http://rugbyleaguewo...b-pioneers.html



#65 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:01 PM

It is all relative. The media coverage of sport before the advent of satellite TV and the internet was small fry. It was pay television that revolutionised professional sport in the UK in terms of money and media exposure. Until 2001 Union Lions Tour was pretty moderately covered. It was Sky TV and the travelling supporters who made into the massive event it is today.

The issue is that the brief revival in the interest in international rugby league from 1990 to 1994, when you had 3 competitive series with big crowds and loads of media attention, was squandered by the subsequent Super League War. The home Tests against Australia in 1990 and 1994 were massive national sporting events with 6 or 7 million people watching on BBC TV. Since the Super League War the international game has never recovered. Rugby league had product that it could sell to the general public and they promptly threw it in the bin. The players in the '90, '92 and '94 teams were household names and celebrities unlike today's players.

Blaming other sports isn't going to solve rugby league's problems, most of which are self inflicted rather than the result of some grand media conspiracy. Go back 20 years and who in the UK gave a t*ss about cycling or rowing? Cyclists and rowers are now big names media personalities and stars. Whinging won't solve rugby league's profile issues.


The idea that it was the Super League war that destroyed the international game is a myth. Ironically it was attempts to expand the international game and subsequent poor showings are what led to the huge decrease.

You cannot point out crowds in isolation. We had a golden period between 1990 and 1996 that was based on a belief that we could beat the superstar Australians that had dominated for the past decade and taken the game to a place it had never been. Look at 1986, if you take out the decent Old Trafford attendance you have some quite poor attendances.

The turning point was 1997. The ambitious World Club Challenge destroyed any notion that our game was on the same planet as theirs. The Wembley crowd was significantly lower than previous Ashes tours and the Old Trafford one, whilst looking impressive was in a stadium with a larger capacity than previously. I suspect 1990/1994 might have been sellouts whereas 1997 definitely wasn't.

By the 2001 tour things had clearly taken a turn for the worse. The 2000 World Cup was a disaster on and off the field. The game was in dire financial straits and we looked to be as far away as ever after losing 49-6 to NZ in the semi-final. It had been a huge embarrassment for the game and the prestige of international RL was low. The RFL were faced with a dilemma in 2001. They faced the very real prospect of low 30k crowds at the big stadia and a potential loss that they couldn't afford. They decided to play it safe and guarantee a profit for the tour. You can disagree with this decision but it isn't quite the mismanagement that many would love it to be.

The important thing is that the seeds were already set for the demise of the international game regardless of Super League. The players of the years 1995-2001 were the same players that would have contested games without a shift to Super League and we would have seen the same problems in my opinion. Let's not forget, we played half the strength of the Australian game in 95-97 an barely competed in 97. With no Super League war we would have potentially faced a massacre in the 1996 tour against a full strength side in Australia.

It's just too easy to blame the RFL and mismanagement.

#66 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:08 PM

What is rarely mentioned in these threads is the demise of the Ashes tests on the Australian side. The 1988 tour was attended by a total of 67,554 people. This is barely a third of what they got 18 years earlier and were getting for many years prior to that. Sadly, this is comfortably lower than the 1989 British Lions tour to Australia at a time when the profile of Australian RU was very much lower than Rugby League.

Whilst it would be great to go back, I fear that were we to try and go back to the Great Britain Lions tour it would look like a weak imitation of the British Lions. Of course we know the real history but who's listening to us?

#67 RugbyLeagueGeek

RugbyLeagueGeek
  • Coach
  • 626 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:42 PM

The turning point was 1997. The ambitious World Club Challenge destroyed any notion that our game was on the same planet as theirs. The Wembley crowd was significantly lower than previous Ashes tours and the Old Trafford one, whilst looking impressive was in a stadium with a larger capacity than previously. I suspect 1990/1994 might have been sellouts whereas 1997 definitely wasn't.

Was it just down to the World Club Challenge, or was it also down to the fact that internationals were no longer on terrestrial television by this point?



#68 RugbyLeagueGeek

RugbyLeagueGeek
  • Coach
  • 626 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:46 PM

What is rarely mentioned in these threads is the demise of the Ashes tests on the Australian side. The 1988 tour was attended by a total of 67,554 people. This is barely a third of what they got 18 years earlier and were getting for many years prior to that. Sadly, this is comfortably lower than the 1989 British Lions tour to Australia at a time when the profile of Australian RU was very much lower than Rugby League.

But the attendances for the 1992 Ashes tour were far higher - over 103,000 aggregate for the tests.



#69 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 06:09 PM

Was it just down to the World Club Challenge, or was it also down to the fact that internationals were no longer on terrestrial television by this point?


The World Club Challenge, winning something like 8 games hardly created a wave of optimism in the game especially when it comes to the internationals. I even remember Eddie making excuses in the studio at the time.

#70 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 06:19 PM

But the attendances for the 1992 Ashes tour were far higher - over 103,000 aggregate for the tests.


Purely down to the increased competitiveness. My point was that while we're basking about the glory days in international RL the period was one of huge demise on the Australian side. I find it hard to believe that this would not have continued to decline as we stopped being competitive.

Our first test on Aussie soil post WCC debacle drew a whopping 14,000. Since then the Aussies come out when they think there's a sniff of competitiveness in us but quickly retreat again when were embarrassed. I think our last crowd was 18,000 from memory.

#71 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 07:53 PM

You can't dismiss the effects of the Super League War. 1986 to 1997 was a golden era but it wasn't built upon. The reason why is because Super League fractured the structure of the international governance of the sport. The cycle of regular home and away test series between Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia that stretched back to the war was lost and never returned. The ARL rightly felt betrayed by the behaviour if the RFL and the NZRL and when the Australian game was reunited needs of the international game were neglected in favour of the club game and the State of Origin. Remember by 1998 a Great Britain team hadn't visited Australia for 6 years. The NRL and the State if Origin became the be all and end all.

Hence the lack of a proper international Test window in every season in October/November. Much of the goodwill that the Australia had to British Rugby League and spreading the game in general was lost. If people want to know why Australian rugby league is insular then its feeling of grievance from the mid 1990s is pretty important.

Also the switch to the Summer season has had an impact too. It has disrupted the natural touring cycle and the fluid movement that used to exist between the British and Australian game where players would regular play in the other Hemipshere during their off seasons.

The one real hope is that with more players in the NRL England can actually start beating Australia regularly. If and when that happens interest should be renewed.

#72 RugbyLeagueGeek

RugbyLeagueGeek
  • Coach
  • 626 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:44 PM

Purely down to the increased competitiveness. My point was that while we're basking about the glory days in international RL the period was one of huge demise on the Australian side. I find it hard to believe that this would not have continued to decline as we stopped being competitive.

Our first test on Aussie soil post WCC debacle drew a whopping 14,000. Since then the Aussies come out when they think there's a sniff of competitiveness in us but quickly retreat again when were embarrassed. I think our last crowd was 18,000 from memory.

Good points. If I remember rightly the 3rd test crowd in 1988 had a very poor crowd as they thought they were going to thrash us.



#73 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:59 PM

You can't dismiss the effects of the Super League War. 1986 to 1997 was a golden era but it wasn't built upon. The reason why is because Super League fractured the structure of the international governance of the sport. The cycle of regular home and away test series between Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia that stretched back to the war was lost and never returned. The ARL rightly felt betrayed by the behaviour if the RFL and the NZRL and when the Australian game was reunited needs of the international game were neglected in favour of the club game and the State of Origin. Remember by 1998 a Great Britain team hadn't visited Australia for 6 years. The NRL and the State if Origin became the be all and end all.

Hence the lack of a proper international Test window in every season in October/November. Much of the goodwill that the Australia had to British Rugby League and spreading the game in general was lost. If people want to know why Australian rugby league is insular then its feeling of grievance from the mid 1990s is pretty important.

Also the switch to the Summer season has had an impact too. It has disrupted the natural touring cycle and the fluid movement that used to exist between the British and Australian game where players would regular play in the other Hemipshere during their off seasons.

The one real hope is that with more players in the NRL England can actually start beating Australia regularly. If and when that happens interest should be renewed.


By 1997, even 1994 the seeds had been clearly sown for the demise. We won one but suffered heavy losses otherwise, much heavier than 90-92. It's far too easy to purely blame the events of 1995.

Some things would not have changed. For instance we would not have stayed competitive and would arguably have been less so as without Super League would have stayed part time. I suspect the 1996 GB Lions tour down under would have resulted in a heavy defeat and low crowds on the Australia side. We were unable to beat the best of half of their league in 1995 and were battered in 1997 on home territory. Simply scheduling regular tests wouldn't have stopped the basic fact that we were uncompetitive again.

People make the mistake of thinking things would have stayed the same when the only thing that is certain is that they wouldn't have. The Aussies would still have got sick of playing and beating us as they did from 1970-1988. Full-time professionalism and increased pressure from clubs would still have led to players not wanting to play regular tests at the end of a long season. The Aussies stopped playing test series against the Kiwis in 1995 too, despite their seasons being in-sync.

#74 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:18 PM

Good points. If I remember rightly the 3rd test crowd in 1988 had a very poor crowd as they thought they were going to thrash us.


16,000 or so.

1966 - 166,522 (Aus win 2-1 38-35 aggregate)
1970 - 165,000 (GB win 2-1 61-64 aggregate)
1974 - 133,791 (Aus win 2-1 45-40 aggregate)
1979 - 66,752 (Aus win 3-0 87-18 aggregate)
1984 - 75,840 (Aus win 3-0 63-21 aggregate)
1988 - 67,554 (Aus win 3-0 63-46 aggregate)
1992 - 103,495 (Aus win 2-1 48-49 aggregate)

Looking at this, I don't think it's any coincidence that crowds collapsed when GB's performance did. They improved when our performance did as well. Like I said earlier, I suspect that the 1996 tour would have been a washout. The 1990 series had an aggregate of 40-29 to the Australians, the 1992 series was actually won on aggregate by GB but by 1994 it was back out to 65-20.

The tour we actually went on to NZ resulted in a 3-0 defeat with 2 further defeats against local sides and a draw. We can only imagine with some horror what the 1996 tour against a full strength Australia might have looked like.

#75 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 10:19 PM

No doubt British Rugby League would have struggled with conversion to full time professionalism and the lack of Union converts however the point I was trying to make that even in the dark days of the late 1970s and early 1980s the Australians were still very committed to the international game no matter how uncompetitive Great Britain, France and New Zealand were. The ARL had a great interest in the spreading the gospel and developing the game in Europe. I mean the Challenge Cup Final used to be a big deal in Australia with people staying up in the middle of the night to watch it. Their was a massive amount of affection for the Old Country.

In many ways the ARL took on the responsibility of supporting rugby league Worldwide because of its obvious strength. This generosity made the betrayal of RFL and NZRL, who effectively kicked Australia out of the international game, even more acute. Having all that goodwill and generosity thrown back in your face is going to have some impact. As a result people in the UK can't complain with Australia now having an insular attitude. Even the name of the British Super League dredges up bad memories for the Aussies.

The key thing is that for the British game to improve it needs as much contact with Australia as possible. Home and away tours every two years and the top players being able to play in both the UK and Australia during their off seasons were crucial in that regard. I mean it has taken nearly 15 years to get significant numbers of British players playing in Australia again. Meanwhile top Aussies players wouldn't dream of playing in the UK at the moment.

Lots of precious things were lost due to the Super League War and the move to Summer.

#76 thirteenthman

thirteenthman
  • Coach
  • 2,613 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 10:29 PM


The key thing is that for the British game to improve it needs as much contact with Australia as possible. Home and away tours every two years and the top players being able to play in both the UK and Australia during their off seasons were crucial in that regard.

 

Two points here. First, 2012 was the first year since 2007 that we hadn't played the Aussies, and even in 2007 we had a 3 test series against the Kiwis. As you state, pre-SL we only played the Aussies every 2 years, so we play them much more regularly now. Secondly, even if we'd stayed as a winter sport, I doubt any players would've been able to play year round RL now with the advent of full time professionalism.



#77 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 24 June 2013 - 11:04 PM

The ARL did warn the RFL that the switch to Summer would threaten the future of Ashes tours and the traditional structure of the international game.

Having the Winter season in the UK gave British Rugby League a much higher profile in Australia than it does now for the obvious reason the two seasons didn't clash. Even though players couldn't play throughout the year guest stints would be much easier for players to arrange and the exchange of players would be greater. South African and Argentinian players do a similar thing in Union at the moment.

#78 Maximus Decimus

Maximus Decimus
  • Coach
  • 7,680 posts

Posted 25 June 2013 - 06:12 PM

No doubt British Rugby League would have struggled with conversion to full time professionalism and the lack of Union converts however the point I was trying to make that even in the dark days of the late 1970s and early 1980s the Australians were still very committed to the international game no matter how uncompetitive Great Britain, France and New Zealand were. The ARL had a great interest in the spreading the gospel and developing the game in Europe. I mean the Challenge Cup Final used to be a big deal in Australia with people staying up in the middle of the night to watch it. Their was a massive amount of affection for the Old Country.

In many ways the ARL took on the responsibility of supporting rugby league Worldwide because of its obvious strength. This generosity made the betrayal of RFL and NZRL, who effectively kicked Australia out of the international game, even more acute. Having all that goodwill and generosity thrown back in your face is going to have some impact. As a result people in the UK can't complain with Australia now having an insular attitude. Even the name of the British Super League dredges up bad memories for the Aussies.

The key thing is that for the British game to improve it needs as much contact with Australia as possible. Home and away tours every two years and the top players being able to play in both the UK and Australia during their off seasons were crucial in that regard. I mean it has taken nearly 15 years to get significant numbers of British players playing in Australia again. Meanwhile top Aussies players wouldn't dream of playing in the UK at the moment.

Lots of precious things were lost due to the Super League War and the move to Summer.


I find it odd that you seem to blame us for the Super League War when it was an Australian idea and it was they that suffered civil war. we were just a pawn in their internal struggles. Maybe you know more than I do but we actually toured Australasia in October 1996, why didn't we play Australia like we usually would have? I can't imagine (but I'm willing to be proven wrong) that it was because we didn't want to play them.

It would be madness to completely disregard the effect of the switch to summer and the Super League war on internationals but they are a convenient and easy excuse for a decline that is far more complicated. There have been a number of other changes in the world that would still have happened such as an increase in globalisation and professionalism of sports. I think it's naive to think that the Australians would still be willing to effectively stop their season in June, including moving State of Origin to accomodate an uncompetitive GB side.

The tours in the UK since the switch to summer have all taken place when they did previously but we've seen a reluctance from Australian players to take part at the end of a long hard season. This is because of a lack of prestige involved in beating a side you've beaten for the last 40 years rather than a mass opinion change after the Super League War.

The reality is that if we could guarantee a competitive and vibrant tour like the current Lions RU one, they'd be begging us to come over.

The penultimate point is just wrong I'm afraid. The significant numbers of British playing in Australia is purely down to monetary factors. In 2005 the NRL salary cap of $3.3m dollars worked out at around £1.32m. At the time the British cap was around the same as now, £1.65m. However now, the NRL cap is $5.85m and due to the exchange rate this works out at £3.5m, more than double ours. In the past any British RL player had to take a risk and a pay cut to move to Australia, now they can do so whilst earning significantly more than in the UK. Tomkins is rumoured to have been offered $1m a year or £600k. This is easily double any Super League player.

Edited by Maximus Decimus, 25 June 2013 - 06:15 PM.


#79 deluded pom?

deluded pom?
  • Coach
  • 8,549 posts

Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:04 PM

No doubt British Rugby League would have struggled with conversion to full time professionalism and the lack of Union converts however the point I was trying to make that even in the dark days of the late 1970s and early 1980s the Australians were still very committed to the international game no matter how uncompetitive Great Britain, France and New Zealand were. The ARL had a great interest in the spreading the gospel and developing the game in Europe. I mean the Challenge Cup Final used to be a big deal in Australia with people staying up in the middle of the night to watch it. Their was a massive amount of affection for the Old Country.

In many ways the ARL took on the responsibility of supporting rugby league Worldwide because of its obvious strength. This generosity made the betrayal of RFL and NZRL, who effectively kicked Australia out of the international game, even more acute. Having all that goodwill and generosity thrown back in your face is going to have some impact. As a result people in the UK can't complain with Australia now having an insular attitude. Even the name of the British Super League dredges up bad memories for the Aussies.

 

If the Aussies were such big champions of the international game then why did they drop the French tour down to only one Test prior to the advent of SL. They also rarely welcomed the French to Australia. I can recall, off the top of my head, a Test in the early eighties and Mal Meninga's  last game on Australian soil for Australia. I can't remember France playing Australia in Australia outside of those two instances in the last thirty years. Do you seriously believe that Australia only developed an insular attitude since 1996?


Edited by deluded pom?, 25 June 2013 - 07:05 PM.

rldfsignature.jpg


#80 Duff Duff

Duff Duff
  • Banned
  • 717 posts

Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:13 PM

France had home and away games with Australia regularly until the Super League split.

http://www.rugbyleag...lts.html?page=2

There has always been a self interested tendency within Australia but the people who at the top of the ARL did have a genuine interest in fostering the international game and growing it. The key issue is that when the Australians reunited and started over again in 1998 the needs of the international game were low down the list of the priorities in terms of the structure of the season. As it was there wasn't much sympathy with the RFL or NZRL over how they had behaved or the French for that matter! There wasn't a designated window or an agreed global structure and schedule.

It wasn't just the Ashes that stopped but 3 Test series between New Zealand and Australia. The fact they haven't returned is a massive shame. Instead the State of Origin became the pinnacle. What better way of promoting League in New Zealand than having a 3 Test series against Australia. It would be headline news like the RU Lions are. The same would be the case for the Kangaroos touring the UK too. The best and probably the only way for Rugby League to attract the attention of the general public in the UK is for England/GB to be playing against Australia.

In terms of future tours of Australia I have this crazy idea that instead of having a 3 Test series with Australia, which people could soon lose interest in, England/GB should play NSW and Queensland with a one off Test against Australia as the finale. You could throw in a warm up game against Canberra if you wanted. Any thoughts? I think it is quite a good idea.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users