It’s pretty obvious why international rugby league isn’t bigger

It’s pretty obvious why international rugby league isn’t bigger

Earlier today, the news was officially confirmed that England will be taking on France in a mid-season test on 29th June.

Now, I bang the drum for rugby league all the time, and especially as a southerner, I want to give the sport as much support as possible and I never stop telling anyone I know what a great game it is. But after today’s announcement, I’m really struggling, and I certainly won’t be pushing this ‘test match’ onto any of my friends. For a start, they won’t even be able to watch it!

In case you missed the news, the game will be shown exclusively on Super League+. Yes, that’s right. If you want to watch it, you’ll need to be a paid up member of rugby league’s streaming platform, or at the very least buy a pass just for the game. And if you haven’t worked it out yet, that rules out any newcomers watching it. I mean, would you pay to watch a sport you’ve never seen before through a streaming platform?

Seriously, it’s times like this when I despair of the people that run the game. Couldn’t they have stuck it on BBC? Or Sky? How many casual viewers will be able to flick through and watch their national team?

ZERO.

And do you know something else? That’s not even the worst part!

The other big news to emerge is that the game will be followed by Toulouse vs Featherstone. No, seriously. When this rumour started doing the rounds a few months ago, I had hoped it was just a wind-up, but in true RL fashion, there’s no smoke without fire and it is indeed true.

Is this really what the international game has come to? England acting as a warm-up to Featherstone?

To put the cherry on the cake, Toulouse happen to be the second-best team in France, so it’s a safe bet to assume they’ll have a few players called up for the national team.

Which means, we either see a weakened France squad – and their strongest side is likely to be hammered anyway – or we see a weakened Toulouse side, which undermines the Championship. Either way, it’s a lose lose for French rugby league.

Honestly, what is the thinking behind any of this? I’d love to hear a senior figure from the RFL come out and explain the rationale behind this entire day, but I’m sure we won’t be hearing a peep from them.

Anyway, back to my original point, which I’ve veered away from. International rugby league isn’t very big, and with organisation like this, it never will be.

I appreciate that we’re a long way behind the other code when it comes to international fixtures, and we’re not helped by the lack of nations who play our great game.

BUT, we don’t have a hope in hell of growing the international game if this is how we treat it.

France vs England on a rugby league streaming platform, with Toulouse v Featherstone to follow as the main event.

Next time you’re wondering why international rugby league isn’t bigger, there’s your answer.

Darren Notley

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