WE GOT ISSUES
By STEVE MASCORD
SOME of the glow of the Wigan and Warrington’s World Club Series victories may have dissipated now, both as a result of another round of Super League being played and the initial confusion over exactly when and where the Warriors’ next game would be.
But everyone is still sufficiently excited that they are throwing around ideas for next year’s tournament – even though we don’t know if there will be one. Colleague Gavin Willacy even suggested a series involving one game for amateur clubs, one for semi-amateurs and one for professionals.
Unfortunately, the profit margin for the WCS at the moment is far too narrow for such a grandiose scheme; the pro sides who draw the sponsorship, TV exposure and crowds can’t afford to “carry” smaller clubs.
But I would like to champion – no pun intended – a concept that many in Australia have already dismissed on the basis you “have to earn the right” to play in the WCS. Well, as Wayne Bennett helpfully pointed out, four teams turned down the chance to come to the UK. The Broncos didn’t really earn their spot and neither did the combatants in 2015.
(By the way, NRL teams reportedly lost A$56.9 million last year – yet four of them turned down around A$400,000 to come to England? If the NRL were “fair dinkum” about the WCS they’d deduct that figure from their grants).
Here’s the concept that has so far been discredited – give a team from France and a team from New Zealand automatic berths. And, perhaps now, we can add a team each from PNG and one from Canada too.
The idea that it’s unfair to other NRL, Super League (and for that matter Intrust Super Cup and National League One) teams to favour the Warriors, Dragons, Wolfpack and Hunters is nothing more than parochialism.
We need to look at these things as outsiders see them and outsiders recognise national borders far above whether a team made the NRL finals last year. If it’s the best team in New Zealand playing the best in France, that’s all that matters to the casula observer.. If we’re going to use the WCS to grow the game, it’s not what existing fans think, it’s how those potential converts view what we’re doing.
I’m pretty sure that if you promised Jason Moore, the promoter behind the 2025 World Cup, a weekend of matches involving Cronulla, Wigan, New Zealand Warriors, PNG Hunters, Toronto Wolfpack and Catalans Dragons he could raise the money to make it happen.
And he could help get a separate TV deal whereas the current tournament is just an add-on to existing agreements. What’s more, we would then be back to three southern hemisphere teams versus three from the northern hemisphere, which would make it a series again.
Perhaps Toulouse and Catalans could even play off for the right to be the French entrant the following year, turning a pre-season friendly into a real event.
New Zealand are reportedly losing the NRL Nines next year. What better replacement than a full scale World Club Championship in Auckland?