After a dominant display by the English teams in the World Club Challenge and World Club series, calls have become louder to move the competition to Australia in 2018.
We have conducted a poll that revealed 45% of voters would like to see the competition moved to Australia. Less than 40% voted to keep the competition in England, while around 15% wanted to remove the competition altogether.
— NRL Crystal Ball (@NrlBall) February 20, 2017
We’ve had a look at some reasons the competition should move to Australia, and also reasons why it should not.
- Equality – Moving the competition to Australia would give NRL sides the home ground advantage, something Super League sides have had in all but four matches since 1976. This was probably not a concern for Australian fans until the Broncos and Sharks both lost convincingly. Now, playing in Australia would give the NRL a better chance to settle the score, while Super League clubs could ultimately prove they are at the same level as NRL sides.
- Club participation – The Broncos and the Sharks were the only two NRL sides willing to make the trip to England less than two weeks from Round 1. Playing in Australia would surely see the best clubs put their hands up to play.
- World Cup – The 2017 World Cup will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. With the final held in Brisbane on December 2nd, Super League players representing their country will already be making the trip down south. Allowing enough time to rest between tournaments, there is a good opportunity to add the World Club Challenge before English players head home for the 2018 season.
- Inequality – Yes, this is a a pretty big contradiction of our ‘pro’. Despite outstanding performances from Wigan and Warrington, we still believe that the NRL generally has higher quality rugby league (this could be our Australian bias coming into play). After all three NRL sides beat the Super League sides by 26 points or more in 2016, there is a concern that the same could happen if the competition was held Down Under.
- Crowd attendance – One of the most impressive parts of playing the World Club challenge in England is the electric atmosphere created at the games. Most NRL fans will tell (especially after a loss) you that this tournament is a trial game, or a preseason hit out. If this is actually the case, then it’s likely there would be below average crowds turning out if the games were held in Australia.
- Marketing the game internationally – Other than determining a world champion, the tournament is a great opportunity to market the game on the international stage. Instead of playing in England or Australia, why not look for a neutral venue where we can show off our game to a less familiar audience? Europe, North America, and the Pacific Islands would all be potential locations. The United States already have shown an interest in Rugby Union, and franchises in Canada and France have created some interest as well.
Do you agree with our pros and cons? Do you have a pro or con to add to the list? Contact us on twitter @NrlBall or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.