Legacy is interesting - amongst some it has almost become a dirty word, and there is a public perception that there hasn't been an Olympic legacy, which certainly isn't the case in reality.
You can look at legacy in a number of ways:
A. THE INTERNATIONAL GAME
What the RLWC has shown is that international rugby league is big news and has re-established international rugby league as a serious spectator and broadcast sport. Very few international team sport events can average 10,000+ per fixture on a 28 game schedule. We're a long way from touching football and rugby union equivalents, but this has shown that rugby league can be a significant player that has the ability to compete with other international sporting events. It's not that far, at spectator level, from being on a similar scale to the Cricket World Cup that is being held in Australia and NZ in 2015. Of course, the Cricket World Cup is huge broadcast product due to the Indian sub-continent market.
The international programme is crucial. It could look like this:
2013: RLWC (England and Wales)
2014: Lions (away to Aus); Tour matches; RLWC2017 preliminary qualifiers
2015: Six Nations (NH); RLWC2017 qualifiers
2016: Tour matches
2017: RLWC (Australia and NZ)
2018: Lions (home to Aus); Tour matches; RLWC2021 preliminary qualifiers
2019: Six Nations (SH); RLWC2021 qualifiers
2020: Tour matches
2021: RLWC (NH)
2022: Lions (away to Aus); Tour matches; RLWC2025 preliminary qualifiers
2023: Six Nations (NH); RLWC2025 qualifiers
2024: Tour matches
2025: RLWC (SH)
Legacy 1. A robust international programme for all nations is established for at least the next two world cup cycles (to 2021)
There have been issues in the world cup about heritage players. Heritage players aren't the problem. It's the system that allows them to move from nation to nation depending upon their own playing prospects. For the 2017 cycle players aspiring to international honours should nominate their nation and stick with it. I've no issue with the USA or Italy etc. I have an issue with players changing.
Legacy 2. Guidelines in place as to enforcing international eligibility
These first two points need to feed off each other. If a player has to weigh up the options between playing for "Country A" or "Country Z", the decision needs to be influenced by the prospects of international competition. If a player can see that Italy has a programme in place for international honours for the next ten years - essentially the players' peak playing years - then said player will be more likely to commit.
So what would that look like? It needs to be a mix of club competition and international competition, but in many ways, contrived to assist those nations that have both the potential and put in the hard yards. Whilst Iestyn Harris made a point about Wales' lack of success due to other teams heritage players, he made it badly. There are six nations where rugby league has professional and semi-professional domestic competition.
Papua New Guinea
Whilst three of these nations would undoubtedly out of their depth at this stage, the four nations must expand to six, offering these six key nations the opportunity to grow and to compete. It recognises that these six countries are made up of homegrown players and rewards them. Other nations need to aspire towards that goal and must be encouraged to do so. You want to dine with the best? Then bring something to the table, don't just make up the numbers.
Legacy 3. Expansion of the "Tri/Four Nations" concept to six teams
There is undoubtedly a will for international club competition, but this shouldn't be a free-for-all, it should be earned. If you look at successful cross-border competition elsewhere - Champions Leagues in football and handball, Heineken Cup etc. places are minimal and they are a reward on performance. An expanded World Club Challenge has value to international rugby, but it must strike a balance between rewarding performance and offering international development. With that in mind I would propose a slightly contrived format that produces a genuine international mix. An 8-team event with places awarded to the 3 places reserved for the highest ranked teams from each of England and Australia and a ringfenced place for each of NZ and France. It is a contrived format, but it will have a knock on benefit for the domestic game in each nation, as well as hopefully having a higher value as an international product.
As an example, and based on 2013 places, a 2014 event could look like this:
New Zealand Warriors
The same could happen at a lower-level to help lay the foundation in other "Big 6" nations, as well as revitalising domestic competition. Again, it has to be contrived, but you could look at:
"European Club Challenge": 4 places to highest ranked English KPC sides; 3 places to highest ranked LER sides; 1 place to highest ranked Welsh side.
Could it work in the southern hemisphere with teams from non-NRL Qld and NSW competition facing NZ National Competition and SP Cup teams? The rationale is that it offers a step up in intensity for the French, Welsh, NZ and PNG player pool without relying upon SL or the NRL.
Legacy 4. A pathway to international club competition for highest ranked teams, allowing a step up in intensity that bridges the gap between domestic competition and the international game
And then you need to look at what legacy looks like outside the international game and in the host nations involved, in our case England, Wales, France and the Republic of Ireland, which I'll post later.
Edited by Jonty, 06 November 2013 - 12:50 PM.