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Heritage teams : Get it off your chest.

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There has been enough threads hijacked by this topic already. So come along, get it off your chest, get it all out here so we can actually talk about the other subjects with out having big arguments on threads written for other topics. 

Ill go first. 

So some or maybe many among us don't believe the guys out there in tears when their anthems are playing, covered in tribal tattoos of their heritage, knocking back big bucks to play for almost nothing and risking never playing for a top tier nation again are not Tongan or Samoan or Fijian enough to be playing for their country even though official rule makers in many other sports agree that they are.

I don't think you guys are seeing the big picture. There would be no Rugby League clubs in Lebanon if heritage players didn't start a international team years ago. Its a stepping stone to greater things. If you cant see that its only because you don't want to see that because it goes against your opinion. 

Today in the courier mail there is a 2 page spread with 3 stories about Tonga. One about NRL officials discussing the redirection of pay to bridge the gap between the New Zealand and Australian players and those representing the Pacific. Do a google search and there are positive articles everywhere. People in high places talking about possible new annual competitions involving the pacific nations, about how the weekends victory will change international rugby league for ever. Ill link some for you if you don't believe me. Real positive steps forward for our game that would never be possible if these nations were full of amateur players been destroyed on the football field.   

http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/11/13/new-zealand-vs-tonga-rugby-leagues-finest-ever-day/

"An upset of unquantifiable magnitudes. Celebrations everywhere. Everywhere. Tonga, South Auckland, Hamilton, Sydney, Brisbane, everywhere.

Other sports have had this moment. Japan knocking off South Africa in rugby union was massive, Ireland toppling England in the cricket, the Netherlands toppling the English in the cricket (gotta love it) were big deals, but victories to those countries didn’t give them a leg up to the semi-finals."

"For two hours on Saturday, we saw peak rugby league. Finally, we saw what the game could be if all the planets aligned, and the perfect snowflakes fell from the sky, and the cherry blossoms were flawless. We saw it, and we won’t forget it. We saw why the game, in fact, any sport, needs a World Cup, no matter how small it is. "

http://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/rugby-league-world-cup-new-zealand-tonga-war-dances-were-spinetingling/news-story/9e2b6c839588fcaaa632b9e16d1da199

"However, the day wasn’t about New Zealand’s loss. It is about Tonga’s win. Jason Taumalolo’s win. The incredible scenes of celebration from the players shedding tears and the fans losing their minds in the crowd demands that this contest is remembered for the men in red’s unbelievable comeback."

http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/rugby-league-world-cup/rugby-league-world-cup-2017-will-rugby-league-every-be-the-same-again-after-tongas-seizmic-upset-20171111-gzjelu.html

"Five players who turned their backs on Australia and New Zealand will forever be remembered as heroes, their coach said after the Mate Ma'a smashed through international rugby league's glass ceiling for one of the most important results in the game's 122 year history."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11943102

"David Kidwell: Kiwis Rugby League World Cup defeat to Tonga a 'blessing in disguise'"

So some of you guys are going to look at those positive headlines and media coverage and tell me with a straight face that these heritage teams are a bad idea? You are going to ignore the 2500 people that showed up to the airport to greet the Tongan team when they arrived in New Zealand the street parties and parades when they arrived in Tonga the sea of red in the packed 25 000 seat stadium. The atmosphere of the crowd and the volume of their chanting. 

Just look at these forums. People are not talking about the big 3 teams winning this world cup they are talking about 4 and they are talking about the improvement of Fiji, PNG. The Lebanese president was sending messages of support to Lebanon after their first win, the Tongan prince was hanging out with the players after the game in Townsville. Apparently Rugby League has never been stronger in the pacific. Do you think this would be the case if these teams were full of no name players getting flogged by 70 points each week?

For the international rugby league to be successful it needs to be interesting, for it to be interesting it needs to be competitive. With out massive amounts of money to poor into development in other nations, money our sport does not have how do you suggest other nations will, by their own hand develop from small 4 or 5 team amateur competitions into competitive rugby league nations interesting enough for us to care when they play against the big 3? Be realistic. That is never going to happen. And if it does we will all be long dead to see it. 

I get it, its not a good look when a Scottish player is interviewed with Aussie accent. I don't like it either. I feel differently for some reason when a Samoan is interviewed. These guys grow up in Pacific Island house holds. Samoan or Tongan or what ever nation they are from is very much apart of who they are. They might be Australian Samoans or Tongans but they are still Samoans and Tongans. 

I think its hard to argue (and I know some of you will) that the Pacific Heritage teams have been anything but a positive for the RLWC and international rugby league. Lebanon are in a similar boat because Sydney Lebanese are still very Lebanese if that makes sense. Maybe different methods could be  put forth for nations like Scotland, Ireland Wales. They could look at what PNG have done with the PNG Hunters and look at creating a pool of 25 homegrown professionals. I am not sure where they would get the funding from but in order to be competitive they need to have fulltime professionals to play against other teams full of fulltime professionals. 

I know this much, if Tonga get to the grand final with this team of heritage players or even if they don't, there will be a lot more kids switching over to the local rugby league club next year because of their success. Maybe some of those Tongan born kids will go onto to be pretty decent football players. Maybe because of those kids the Tongan rugby league team in a few years wont be full of heritage players and it will be partly because of the success of this team we have today. Like I said, you guys have got to look at the big picture and what can happen down the track. 

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I'm not a huge fan of heritage teams but I accept the rules. Our current rules on eligibility are comparable to other sports so the notion that we are desperate to fill teams isn't true. I'd like to see the heritage rules steadily tightened after each WC but this WC is being played under the rules laid down and widely published and circulated.

I don't like exceptions and, at the moment, Tonga doesn't need a special loophole but it is an unusual case. 50% of all Tongans live outside Tonga. The reason is primarily related to their traditional system of land allocation which, as the population grew, became unworkable. 

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i personally dont understand the argument about heritage teams. Isnt all patriotism based in heritage?

My complaint isnt that the likes of Taumololo are playing for Tonga in the world cup, its that they cant really do it again next year.

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I'm happy to play by the rules but I also accept the argument that a lot of Australians aren't going to get behind games involving these teams in numbers on the basis of who's involved. Lebanon beating France also sticks in the throat given France is a bona fide French team and Lebanon are a bunch of Australians a lot of whom play in the NRL.

I appreciate it's a tough call though because without the heritage players we wouldn't have had the brilliant NZ v Tonga game we saw on Saturday.

Edited by Bramstein

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17 minutes ago, Farmduck said:

Our current rules on eligibility are comparable to other sports ...

The key difference being that the vast majority of other sports do not have the same laissez faire attitude to international transfers.

They really don't. Once you've committed at senior level that's it. It's either that way for life or a significant waiting period. The ones we were closest to have all tightened up massively in the past decade. We haven't.

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Its not the heritage teams that are the issue for me, its the constant switching.

I am not particularly comfortable with the likes of Scotland and Ireland as I know that the game is basically non-existent in those places and few are aware there is even a national team or that there is a World Cup. With seemingly no plans or finance to develop the game in those places I think they are a waste of 2 spots and just making up the numbers. I also know some players play for these countries just to play in the World Cup and feel no real allegiance to those places. They certainly wont give a damn about playing for them on a cold, wet night in Workington in from of a few hundred people to qualify. However despite this if players qualify for these countries under practically the same rules as every other sport then I have no issue. When they play for those countries because they don't get picked for England I'm a little more uneasy.

Lebanon I have less issue with as there seems to be genuine attempts to grow the game there. Without heritage players there is simply no way they can compete.

The PI countries seem totally different and with more Samoans and Tongan's outside of those countries than in them, for all sorts of reasons. Their heritage does seem to mean an awful lot to them and in many ways they do see themselves as having dual nationality, or more in some cases. Heritage players are a necessity for these countries and always will be. Fiji has shown the way forward for the Pacific Islands in growing a strong domestic competition from nothing on the back of a successful World Cup. They have home grown Fijians, mixed with Fijian heritage players. If Samoa and Tonga can get stronger domestic setups, mixed with heritage players then that's fine by me.

The key for me is having all nations playing the same number of games as tier 1 teams. Indeed let Fiji, PNG, Tonga and Samoa be in tier 1 with the same fixtures and treated the same. That will automatically reduce the need to switch as players for those countries will actually have meaningful games to play in between World Cups (and if they are all in the same tier they cant switch anyway).

 

Edited by Damien
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14 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

i personally dont understand the argument about heritage teams. Isnt all patriotism based in heritage?

My complaint isnt that the likes of Taumololo are playing for Tonga in the world cup, its that they cant really do it again next year.

Taumalolo can play for Tonga whenever he likes. When players register (with the NRL anyway) they nominate a country of eligibility and, if relevant, a country of heritage. Taumalolo's eligibility and loyalties have always been his choice.

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My view for what it’s worth is that heritage teams should be a means to an end. If a team is going to be packed full of heritage players then it must be for a short term vision of being competitive with a longer term vision of developing RL at grassroots level in order to produce born and bred players for that said country.

We must also stop this ridiculous and hugely embarrassing process of players switching countries when they’re either deemed not good enough yet to play for a tier 1 nation or their careers are coming to an end and they all of a sudden find this immense need and pride to represent their country of heritage.

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31 minutes ago, Farmduck said:

Taumalolo can play for Tonga whenever he likes. When players register (with the NRL anyway) they nominate a country of eligibility and, if relevant, a country of heritage. Taumalolo's eligibility and loyalties have always been his choice.

Tonga have to be playing for him to play for them.

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Some heritage players strengthening teams which have a majority of players who qualify by citizenship is common to many sports.  Heritage teams full of players who all qualified by heritage is the problem, as far as I know those only exist in RL and they're an embarrassment to the game.

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11 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

Tonga have to be playing for him to play for them.

Yes and they have a Tonga governing body which is free to organise internationals whenever they want. If he wants more games he should tell the coach who should tell the Tonga RL

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16 minutes ago, Farmduck said:

Yes and they have a Tonga governing body which is free to organise internationals whenever they want. If he wants more games he should tell the coach who should tell the Tonga RL

Who are they going to play? It takes at least two to tango and a lot more for a meaningful international game.

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1 hour ago, Farmduck said:

Our current rules on eligibility are comparable to other sports so the notion that we are desperate to fill teams isn't true. 

Name another sport with heritage teams. (It's quite possible some others exist, an Ireland basketball team filled with Americans of Irish descent?, an Ireland ice hockey team filled with Canadians of Irish descent?, an Ireland Kabbadi team filled with Indians of Irish descent?)

Heritage players are not the issue, every single sport has them, so get away from that non issue. The issue is heritage teams. XIII non natives wearing an Ireland (or Scotland, or whoever) jersey in a sport with next to no presence in that country. It's 100% manufactured. It's an alien team being supplanted in a [pick national team] jersey. Much of that "Ireland" team are a product of St Helens in England (quoting Dave Woods here), they have nothing to do with any Irish input, there is none. 

XIII unknown players playing a sport that has a negligible profile, no-one can be suprised that won't generate interest (apparently Lebanon is an exception). There is a RLWC going on right now and (ball park figure) 98% of people in Ireland wouldn't have a clue it's on. There has been a build up for weeks for Ireland's two qualifying games for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the RU autumn internationals, and the international series involving the GAA players, with all three teams playing at the weekend just gone. I'm aware Ireland RL team played as I frequent this forum. Haven't seen a second of action: one as it's not shown, and two because I'm not interested in a heritage team. 

Mentioned previously that heritage teams are a necessity (for now) as they provide extra games and as a result generate more money. The tournament needs them. But don't expect them to provide anything else. The same people will largely watch the games, the footprint of the game won't expand, that's only done through grassroots work in those heritage nations (develop players, they then make up teams, fans will follow, media will take an interest...none of which are present). 

Heritage teams mean no footprint, that's the crux of the issue. A sport with no footprint. 

 

Edited by EHarris
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14 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

Who are they going to play? It takes at least two to tango and a lot more for a meaningful international game.

I'm not sure which part you don't understand. They get on the phone and ring governing bodies in other countries, etc, etc. I can't answer this question without sounding facetious.

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49 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

Some heritage players strengthening teams which have a majority of players who qualify by citizenship is common to many sports.  Heritage teams full of players who all qualified by heritage is the problem, as far as I know those only exist in RL and they're an embarrassment to the game.

Precisely.

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10 minutes ago, Farmduck said:

I'm not sure which part you don't understand. They get on the phone and ring governing bodies in other countries, etc, etc. I can't answer this question without sounding facetious.

And thats how a healthy game structures its international fixtures?

A player decides he wants fancies a game rings his coach, who rings the head of his national association, who then arbitrarily rings around other countries associations and sees if their coach has had any calls from any of their players who fancy a game until he finds one that has and then they put a game on.

Are you sure thats how sports organise international games?

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The issue is constant switching and heritage teams. In four years' time we'll be having the same discussions about Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Samoa etc as the RLIF don't seem to learn a thing. 

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Like many people, I don't have a problem with heritage teams just for the sake of it. It's when they don't lead anywhere and many years after the first squad play their first games, the squad is still full of heritage players. It should be part of a long term plan.

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Most Italians arrived just after WW2 so the quality heritage players will start to disappear. Similar for other communities. Only those building their domestic competitions off the back of the WC exposure will be strong into the future.

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29 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

And thats how a healthy game structures its international fixtures?

A player decides he wants fancies a game rings his coach, who rings the head of his national association, who then arbitrarily rings around other countries associations and sees if their coach has had any calls from any of their players who fancy a game until he finds one that has and then they put a game on.

Are you sure thats how sports organise international games?

 

Quote

And thats how a healthy game structures its international fixtures?

We already have the Big Events scheduled. The time between the big events is up for grabs.

Quote

A player decides he wants fancies a game rings his coach, who rings the head of his national association, who then arbitrarily rings around other countries associations and sees if their coach has had any calls from any of their players who fancy a game until he finds one that has and then they put a game on.

You asked how Taumalolo could get more games for Tonga. If he and the other players tell the coach that they will make themselves available for more games then the coach can take that to the relevant governing body and tell them to get off their asses and organise some more games.

Quote

Are you sure thats how sports organise international games?

How do you think the recent 3-nation tournament in Thailand happened? How do you think teams like Sweden, Norway, Philippines get games?

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6 minutes ago, Copa said:

Most Italians arrived just after WW2 so the quality heritage players will start to disappear. Similar for other communities. Only those building their domestic competitions off the back of the WC exposure will be strong into the future.

In 10 years time, Poland might replace Ireland and Scotland based on heritage players. 

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6 minutes ago, londonrlfan said:

In 10 years time, Poland might replace Ireland and Scotland based on heritage players. 

POLSKA!!!!!!

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1 hour ago, Farmduck said:

 

We already have the Big Events scheduled. The time between the big events is up for grabs.

You asked how Taumalolo could get more games for Tonga. If he and the other players tell the coach that they will make themselves available for more games then the coach can take that to the relevant governing body and tell them to get off their asses and organise some more games.

How do you think the recent 3-nation tournament in Thailand happened? How do you think teams like Sweden, Norway, Philippines get games?

I fear you have confused professional international sport and 'playing out'. England arent playing Brazil this week at Wembley because Joe Hart fancied a game so Gareth Southgate called up all the other dads until he found out Neymar's mum had just bought him a new ball for his birthday and he was desperate to try it out.

 

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