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jim_57

International teams & heritage players. Are we missing an oppurtunity?

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This will probably be controversial as all heritage/eligibility discussions always are but are we as a sport missing a golden oppurtunity to take advantage of our current situation?

Let me elaborate. As everyone knows there is a divide between "legitimate" homegrown international teams and teams that rely on heritage players to be competitive. Heritage nations will never be an ideal situation, but is enough being done to capitalize on the strength of these national team/s whilst such players are available to them?

Immigration patterns and trends are and will change and these types of players will increase and decrease according to these patterns somewhat. For example in 30 years Asian nations could have a better supply of eligible players than Ireland or Samoa, Poland could work their way up the rankings, etc.

What I'm trying to get at is maybe we should be doing more with this situation whilst these nations have strong teams at their disposal, which could fall away in 5-10 years. I know people will say they are artificial and nobody will care etc but look at the realistic side, a side genuinely competitive on the world stage would be more likely to gain some sort of publicity/attention then a team getying spanked 80+ by second tier nations.

I am by no means saying stop striving to develop the game in any country, just saying I think we could be utilizing these players more to try and grow the profile of the sport in these countries whilst they have a competitive national team to point potential fans towards. It would obviously take a bit of a marketing budget and a big draw, but hosting and promoting Internationals in these places (where possible) could be a big publicity boost if the team put on a good show.

Ideally all teams reliant on heritage players could use their time with a strong squad to aim to build the sport in that country and slowly watch as homegrown players take over heritage players. That should be the goal of every heritage nation medium/long term, I'm not so sure it is though.

Tours may be the best way to utilize this, have touring sides play games in places like Italy, Ireland etc if viable as well as obviously Wales and France, add to that England playing away against these nations here and there.

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Completely agree.

 

Strike while the iron's hot. Even if 25% of those artificially inflated nations end up taking up the game it will be worth it. 


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26 minutes ago, Pulga said:

Completely agree.

 

Strike while the iron's hot. Even if 25% of those artificially inflated nations end up taking up the game it will be worth it. 

I'd argue even if 1 country could carve out a market it would be worth it.

I've seen plenty of people argue about heritage teams being a waste of time and how nations develop homegrown players, BUT, there is no reason these teams can't use that strong national team to their advantage to help develop the game and homegrown players in the process.

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It's definitely the diehards and those who dislike our sport who make a bigger deal out of heritage players than most general sports fans or even many League fans.

Taking last years Four Nations as an example, the TV ratings for games involving Scotland on the BBC were as good as games involving the 'real' nations.

England v Scotland drew an average audience of 1.2m which was only bettered by England v NZ which had 1.3. England v Australia only averaged 1.1 whilst the replay of Scotland v NZ on BBC (the day after it was played) drew over 1 million. 

Whilst crowds were of course different, however part of that was venue selections, kick off times, etc; however arguably I saw more press about NZ v Scotland (including in Scottish publications) than anything else about the tournament. 

Anyway getting back to it, even England v Ireland drew over a million when on the BBC for the RLWC.

These aren't small figures, companies are happy to sponsor events which will be seen by more than a million people, which makes one wonder why the RFL is always wanting to play Australia all the time and will forfeit any home matches for the opportunity to.

Whilst I get that Australia is the best side in the world, it appears to the general public they are no more 'appealing' than the other English rivals of NZ, Scotland, Ireland, etc.

So why don't we leverage these heritage sides, which can offer some very competitive games, more often?

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Most sports are willing to try every trick in their arsenal to further their game, their consciences are upset only where those interests are not upheld. In a competitive market you use what means you can to help your sport or you get left behind. Not competing in those markets is to accept defeat or to not realise they're even in in a battle. People who get annoyed about heritage players neither undestand why it's important to those players or the sport itself. Being hamstrung by a silly point of order rather than making the most of any opportunities is as illogical as it is stupid.:biggrin:

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52 minutes ago, Yakstorm said:

It's definitely the diehards and those who dislike our sport who make a bigger deal out of heritage players than most general sports fans or even many League fans.

Taking last years Four Nations as an example, the TV ratings for games involving Scotland on the BBC were as good as games involving the 'real' nations.

England v Scotland drew an average audience of 1.2m which was only bettered by England v NZ which had 1.3. England v Australia only averaged 1.1 whilst the replay of Scotland v NZ on BBC (the day after it was played) drew over 1 million. 

Whilst crowds were of course different, however part of that was venue selections, kick off times, etc; however arguably I saw more press about NZ v Scotland (including in Scottish publications) than anything else about the tournament. 

Anyway getting back to it, even England v Ireland drew over a million when on the BBC for the RLWC.

These aren't small figures, companies are happy to sponsor events which will be seen by more than a million people, which makes one wonder why the RFL is always wanting to play Australia all the time and will forfeit any home matches for the opportunity to.

Whilst I get that Australia is the best side in the world, it appears to the general public they are no more 'appealing' than the other English rivals of NZ, Scotland, Ireland, etc.

So why don't we leverage these heritage sides, which can offer some very competitive games, more often?

Exactly my line of thinking. I tend to think if the RFL put the same amount of marketing and budget in to a home test V Italy, Ireland etc as they do a single game against Australia or NZ the results would show. As it stands any games against these nations seem to be very irregular and tucked away in Leigh or Doncaster.

Don't get me wrong, I think England should be playing France once a year regardless, but fixtures against these nations should be more regular as well.

Amongst all ideas of exhibition games of taking games to new areas (a lot of which are proposed by me..) there never seems to be any notion to use these strong heritage teams to play big games in those particular countries. Scotland in the 4N being a perfect example even though they did at least try. How often do Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Samoa, Fiji etc host full strength test matchs? It seems like we are too embarrassed to take these teams and try and build the sport with them.

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Let's have a Kangaroos tour for example. What it will likely look like:

Kangaroos V England x 3, Kangaroos V Club side, England V France (warm up)

Let's have a look at what it could look like, tell me which of these looks more appealing to a player or fan

Week 1
France V England
Australia V NZ

Week 2
Italy V England

Week 3
Ireland V Australia
Wales V England

Week 4
France V Australia
Scotland V England

Week 5-7
England V Australia × 3

Gives every team a big home game to market. Maybe could be condensed a bit, but these nations should benifit as well from any "big 3" tour. Meanwhile the odd one out NZ could play a Pacific Cup or tour North America.

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Why not just get rid of the heritage rule completely and let players pick any nation they want then? Select all the SL and NRL players for the RLWC. We could have 32 nations, including Canada, China, Japan, Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico and any other nation we want. It'd be grand. Mexico could foot the bill :)

Edited by MEXICO WILL PAY

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6 minutes ago, MEXICO WILL PAY said:

Why not just get rid of the heritage rule completely and let players pick any nation they want then? Select all the SL and NRL players for the RLWC. We could have 32 nations, including Canada, China, Japan, Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico and any other nation we want. It'd be grand. Mexico could foot the bill :)

Why doesn't every other sport in world with the same eligibility criteria do the same first? :search:

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20 hours ago, Yakstorm said:

It's definitely the diehards and those who dislike our sport who make a bigger deal out of heritage players than most general sports fans or even many League fans.

Or you know, people who are actually from those countries?

It's interesting that pretty much the entirety of your post is about the value of heritage-based sides as a competitive fixture for England or to attract an English TV audience. Whether there is any benefit to the country itself seems to be a distant second consideration. Not to mention whether those sides damage the development of nations who do not use heritage players and miss out on places in top level tournaments as a result.

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On 2/3/2017 at 6:35 PM, damp squib said:

Or you know, people who are actually from those countries?

It's interesting that pretty much the entirety of your post is about the value of heritage-based sides as a competitive fixture for England or to attract an English TV audience. Whether there is any benefit to the country itself seems to be a distant second consideration. Not to mention whether those sides damage the development of nations who do not use heritage players and miss out on places in top level tournaments as a result.

But you can involve heritage people and still develope your game domestically. It has been done, it's being done, it will be done. 

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1 hour ago, MatthewWoody said:

But you can involve heritage people and still develope your game domestically. It has been done, it's being done, it will be done. 

Absolutely and I never denied that. But we can choose to have criteria in place so that teams who can field a majority of home grown professional players are given preference for entry into competitions because that is where the most benefit will be accrued for RL. A NH 4 Nations should always feature either France or Wales until the other nations are also able to meet that minimum requirement. Ditto SH 4 Nations where PNG should be prioritized over Samoa.

The OP was suggesting that we use the heritage sides more, not less, as it would be beneficial for England. I'm arguing that it would be detrimental to the development of the game as a whole. Even if it weren't, the plan falls down because most of the heritage sides would not have their Australia based players available during the season anyway and so wouldn't even be competitive.

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On 03/03/2017 at 4:35 AM, damp squib said:

Or you know, people who are actually from those countries?

It's interesting that pretty much the entirety of your post is about the value of heritage-based sides as a competitive fixture for England or to attract an English TV audience. Whether there is any benefit to the country itself seems to be a distant second consideration. Not to mention whether those sides damage the development of nations who do not use heritage players and miss out on places in top level tournaments as a result.

That's one way you can read it, however not the point I was trying to get across at all.

From being involved in trying to get the game up and running in a few different countries, I can state that heritage sides aren't as evil as some people lead you to believe.

Firstly, heritage / expat communities can help a sport get coverage back in the home country. Using the recent Thailand XIII tour of Australia, this actually was reported back in Thailand, which actually helps the local people trying to establish the sport get awareness, players and sponsors. 

Secondly, these communities can be incredibly supportive of the work back home. Using Serbia as an example,  no one questions the good work being done back there in Eastern Europe, however people very quickly ignore that a significant number of their sponsors are Australian companies owned by Serbian ex-pats.

Thirdly, if a mix cab be achieved of heritage and local players (ie. Ireland currently) it helps raise standards of tge local players as well.

Finally, these heritage players sometimes do give back. A number of the Philippines players have done sessions in Manilla, and wasn't Australian born James Hasson helping raise awareness back in Ireland only a few months back?

A reliance on heritage players can be dangerous, but at the same time they can an extremely useful resource to helping grow the game.

Countries like Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Chile, Thailand, Philippines, etc would not even be playing the sport without them.

Even Jamaica, interest was first raised in the island thanks to the old West Indies Nines side that use to run around in the various nines competitions that use to exist in the UK. The good old Wahoos!

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8 hours ago, damp squib said:

The OP was suggesting that we use the heritage sides more, not less, as it would be beneficial for England. I'm arguing that it would be detrimental to the development of the game as a whole. Even if it weren't, the plan falls down because most of the heritage sides would not have their Australia based players available during the season anyway and so wouldn't even be competitive.

Well not really, I didn't really mention benifit to England and certainly didn't condone using heritage teams to the detriment of well developed nations like France, PNG and Wales. In fact I would personally have France play England home and away every year regardless and either Australia or NZ play a full test against PNG annually, but that's for another thread.

What the argument was that instead of using these strong heritage teams sporadically to boost up numbers at World Cups etc, why not use the oppurtunity to promote the game in those nations themselves whilst these countries have a strong team available to them? For example getting a full strength Italian team together for a test in Italy.

With immigration patterns changing if we don't make progress now I can't help but feel a lot of these nations could look back in 20-30 years with with a similar strength domestic scene and much weaker national side and wonder what coukd have been.

The thing is it doesn't HAVE to be one or the other. For example just because Scotland has a lot of heritage players at their disposal doesn't mean they can't aim to develop a strong domestic scene like Serbia.

Edited by jim_57

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1 hour ago, Yakstorm said:

That's one way you can read it, however not the point I was trying to get across at all.

From being involved in trying to get the game up and running in a few different countries, I can state that heritage sides aren't as evil as some people lead you to believe.

Firstly, heritage / expat communities can help a sport get coverage back in the home country. Using the recent Thailand XIII tour of Australia, this actually was reported back in Thailand, which actually helps the local people trying to establish the sport get awareness, players and sponsors. 

Secondly, these communities can be incredibly supportive of the work back home. Using Serbia as an example,  no one questions the good work being done back there in Eastern Europe, however people very quickly ignore that a significant number of their sponsors are Australian companies owned by Serbian ex-pats.

Thirdly, if a mix cab be achieved of heritage and local players (ie. Ireland currently) it helps raise standards of tge local players as well.

Finally, these heritage players sometimes do give back. A number of the Philippines players have done sessions in Manilla, and wasn't Australian born James Hasson helping raise awareness back in Ireland only a few months back?

A reliance on heritage players can be dangerous, but at the same time they can an extremely useful resource to helping grow the game.

Countries like Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Chile, Thailand, Philippines, etc would not even be playing the sport without them.

Even Jamaica, interest was first raised in the island thanks to the old West Indies Nines side that use to run around in the various nines competitions that use to exist in the UK. The good old Wahoos!

This pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Basically the jist of the thread was that heritage players should be used a vehicle to grow the game in these types of nations where possible, not tucked away and just used to boost numbers etc.  Obviously we don't want to see any nations solely reliant of heritage players, the goal should be using all avaible resources to grow the game in these countries so they can aim develop their own players and domestic scene to support a medium/long term transition period of heritage to homegrown national team.

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14 hours ago, damp squib said:

Absolutely and I never denied that. But we can choose to have criteria in place so that teams who can field a majority of home grown professional players are given preference for entry into competitions because that is where the most benefit will be accrued for RL. A NH 4 Nations should always feature either France or Wales until the other nations are also able to meet that minimum requirement. Ditto SH 4 Nations where PNG should be prioritized over Samoa.

The OP was suggesting that we use the heritage sides more, not less, as it would be beneficial for England. I'm arguing that it would be detrimental to the development of the game as a whole. Even if it weren't, the plan falls down because most of the heritage sides would not have their Australia based players available during the season anyway and so wouldn't even be competitive.

Well yes and not, although I understood your point of view. 

I mean (sorry for my English, I got a micraine...), as long as the involvement of heritage players (and staff etc.) don't put local developement in danger, I'll be more than happy with that. 

I think you can play heritage players even more often, as long as you keep on creating fixtures for both them and the locals (as, e.g., we did here and, alas, the Scots didn't during last 4 N. If they played, say, Malta or Germany with a Scotland "A" team composed by local homegrown players, few people would have been annoyed by their presence in the main 4 N). 

Whenever, as you mention, Australian based players are not available or only few of them are, it's the chance to mix local and heritage, amateur (don't forget this...) and pro. The main aim is to build bridges between amateur and professional footy. 

I'll agree with you with Wales and France being garanteed a place in some kind of 4-5-6 Nations tournament, or a regular fixture with England every year, given their use of local pro and semipro players. But I don't think this must be the 4 N, say; it can be another tournament, or a 3 matches test series (image a shield between France v Wales every year and then who wins goes to play v England). Or they can tour (France was to tour NZ some years ago, but then they didn't because the Kiwis accepted to play England here in Europe). 

A lot can be done, but I saw Scots partecipation to last 4 N as a refreshing and positive thing. They managed to stop the Kiwis, were adopted by lots of fans as their were the underdogs and heritage Scots pride was shown on the field. I see what you mean but, imho, the answer is: keep on building (and estabilshing: RU creates fixtures and trophies but then mantain them!) new fixtures, rationally thought (we all knew France was not to play Int footy, bar the England tests, last Autumn: let's invite PNG or Samoa etc. to tour Europe. People in Perpignan, Avignone etc. would have come in numbers to see Fijian or Samoan NRL stars). 

Jamaica team who played Wales was interesting, imho. I know they had to field the heritage players because of economical reason, but given there's a good contingent of England base (heritage or not, if they feel connected enouth to their Jamaican roots, who cares?), why can't we invite JRL to play more test (or rep games) with them? Wales and France would benefit, gaining a new opponent they can play more often against. 

Just random ideas, but I feel this was one of the most pragmatic and useful (imho) threads in this forum, as it's not biased but tries to see the biggest picture. 

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2 hours ago, MatthewWoody said:

Well yes and not, although I understood your point of view. 

I mean (sorry for my English, I got a micraine...), as long as the involvement of heritage players (and staff etc.) don't put local developement in danger, I'll be more than happy with that. 

I think you can play heritage players even more often, as long as you keep on creating fixtures for both them and the locals (as, e.g., we did here and, alas, the Scots didn't during last 4 N. If they played, say, Malta or Germany with a Scotland "A" team composed by local homegrown players, few people would have been annoyed by their presence in the main 4 N). 

Whenever, as you mention, Australian based players are not available or only few of them are, it's the chance to mix local and heritage, amateur (don't forget this...) and pro. The main aim is to build bridges between amateur and professional footy. 

I'll agree with you with Wales and France being garanteed a place in some kind of 4-5-6 Nations tournament, or a regular fixture with England every year, given their use of local pro and semipro players. But I don't think this must be the 4 N, say; it can be another tournament, or a 3 matches test series (image a shield between France v Wales every year and then who wins goes to play v England). Or they can tour (France was to tour NZ some years ago, but then they didn't because the Kiwis accepted to play England here in Europe). 

A lot can be done, but I saw Scots partecipation to last 4 N as a refreshing and positive thing. They managed to stop the Kiwis, were adopted by lots of fans as their were the underdogs and heritage Scots pride was shown on the field. I see what you mean but, imho, the answer is: keep on building (and estabilshing: RU creates fixtures and trophies but then mantain them!) new fixtures, rationally thought (we all knew France was not to play Int footy, bar the England tests, last Autumn: let's invite PNG or Samoa etc. to tour Europe. People in Perpignan, Avignone etc. would have come in numbers to see Fijian or Samoan NRL stars). 

Jamaica team who played Wales was interesting, imho. I know they had to field the heritage players because of economical reason, but given there's a good contingent of England base (heritage or not, if they feel connected enouth to their Jamaican roots, who cares?), why can't we invite JRL to play more test (or rep games) with them? Wales and France would benefit, gaining a new opponent they can play more often against. 

Just random ideas, but I feel this was one of the most pragmatic and useful (imho) threads in this forum, as it's not biased but tries to see the biggest picture. 

Agree, heritage teams are a necessary evil at this stage of RL's development, but if used correctly they can really help establish the game domestically which really shoukd be the long term aim for all nations.

I'll just throw an example at you, from what I understand you're involved with Italian RL, correct? How much help do you think it could be for the local scene in Italy if the Kangaroos, Kiwis or England were to play a full test against Italy in Italy?

Edited by jim_57

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4 hours ago, jim_57 said:

Agree, heritage teams are a necessary evil at this stage of RL's development, but if used correctly they can really help establish the game domestically which really shoukd be the long term aim for all nations.

I'll just throw an example at you, from what I understand you're involved with Italian RL, correct? How much help do you think it could be for the local scene in Italy if the Kangaroos, Kiwis or England were to play a full test against Italy in Italy?

I see what you mean.

At the moment, I don't think a test involving the big 3 in Italy would help rise awareness, as we're struggling a bit making people love following rl (NRL, SL etc.). It may seem a paradox, but even those who are starting to like playing rl, prefer ru when it come to watch matches on tv etc. There's a lot of ru on tv (public air, pay tv). My dream would be to convince some Italian tv to broadcast rl games, but it's not easy as you may think. E.g.: you have to comment it in Italian (ok, NFL games are shown with original comment, but those who likes it already know the rules and the game) and to sell it as an independent "sport", not a variety of ru (7s etc.). Long road, difficult given it's all done by volountaries...

...BUT, a test in England, say, with the full squad, together with an Italy A v Scotland A match, would work. It'll expose our players (and Scottish homegrown) to professional aspect of the game, make them live and spend time with pro players. Just my idea, of course.

If and when we manage, with social media work and working on the field (example: let's watch Italy games at the WC all together in a rugby club house etc.), we'll manage to make Italians understand how beautiful this sport can be....Well, then a test involving Greg Inglis or Sam B in my country would be a dream come true.

Me, I'm doing my part, e.g. going to local RU matches wearing RL jerseys ?

Btw, in my dreamland (you know, thoughts you make under the shower or going to bed...), Italy'd play the Kiwis or Samoa etc in SOO weekends and help to improve International calendar, even if Down Under. This would help cement our community there, too.

P.S.: sorry if my thoughts seem confused, but I'm typing from my smartphone while watching Man U v Bournemouth on the tv ?

Edited by MatthewWoody

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21 hours ago, MatthewWoody said:

I see what you mean.

At the moment, I don't think a test involving the big 3 in Italy would help rise awareness, as we're struggling a bit making people love following rl (NRL, SL etc.). It may seem a paradox, but even those who are starting to like playing rl, prefer ru when it come to watch matches on tv etc. There's a lot of ru on tv (public air, pay tv). My dream would be to convince some Italian tv to broadcast rl games, but it's not easy as you may think. E.g.: you have to comment it in Italian (ok, NFL games are shown with original comment, but those who likes it already know the rules and the game) and to sell it as an independent "sport", not a variety of ru (7s etc.). Long road, difficult given it's all done by volountaries...

...BUT, a test in England, say, with the full squad, together with an Italy A v Scotland A match, would work. It'll expose our players (and Scottish homegrown) to professional aspect of the game, make them live and spend time with pro players. Just my idea, of course.

If and when we manage, with social media work and working on the field (example: let's watch Italy games at the WC all together in a rugby club house etc.), we'll manage to make Italians understand how beautiful this sport can be....Well, then a test involving Greg Inglis or Sam B in my country would be a dream come true.

Me, I'm doing my part, e.g. going to local RU matches wearing RL jerseys ?

Btw, in my dreamland (you know, thoughts you make under the shower or going to bed...), Italy'd play the Kiwis or Samoa etc in SOO weekends and help to improve International calendar, even if Down Under. This would help cement our community there, too.

P.S.: sorry if my thoughts seem confused, but I'm typing from my smartphone while watching Man U v Bournemouth on the tv ?

Surely if there is any way to get people's attention it could be a high profile International though? I suppose finding a marketing budget would be the key issue, but I think we should be working towards making these national teams a legitimate draw in their home countries.

I've floated the idea of Italy looking to play a game "down under" on the rep weekend against a spare side, the likes of Cook Islands or Lebanon (both mainly Aus/NZ based spring to mind. The more internationals the better.

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