Are Overseas Teams Good For The Game?



With the recent news that there are plans to introduce a New York based team in the next few years, we take a look at whether the introduction of these teams is really productive to the growth of the game. Jarryd Hayne, Paul Gallen and even Sam Burgess have been ear-marked by this potential new side as marquee signings.

Plans have been submitted to be reviewed by the RFL and it is looking like it is going to be a near identical business model to that of the Toronto Wolfpack. For those who are unaware of the Wolf pack allow me to explain. Toronto completed their debut season in the third tier of the English leagues, in this season they went 15 and 0, scoring 916 points and conceding just 157, these stats are impressive and on this merit alone they should be more than a Kingstone Press League 1 side. This has earned them promotion to the Championship and they could be in Super League as early as the 2019 season.

Their success comes from their recruitment, they bring a host of Super League and even NRL former stars to their side; FuiFui MoiMoi, Aston Sims, Ryan Brierly, Ryan Bailey and they have even recruited Josh Mccrone for the 2018 season from the ST George Illawara Dragons. It's obvious if you pit players of this calibre against, what is predominantly part time players, it's only going to go one way, their stats unfortunately back this up. Toronto do not claim any prize money for this as part of a pre-existing agreement that states the money will be put back into the league itself. The same agreement is expected to be enforced upon the New York club.

The money aspect is going to be the biggest challenge for the RFL to work out, it could come to a point in which you have, Toronto (Canada), Catalans (France) and New York (America) all in the same League. This will resort in a lot of travel costs for the clubs to incur, as you can't expect Championship sides with little income to fund these trips themselves. The end game is having these teams in Super League will boost the popularity of the sport, sparking an expansion of Rugby League in these countries leading to their own competitive leagues. The obvious flaw in this plan is that the sides that are made up of mostly local players are going to struggle against the pioneers of their leagues, who have been competition ready for years.

The way the home games for these sides will work is again similar to that of the Wolfpack, they will play block home and away games in which they spend will spend 6 weeks in New York and then fly to the UK and play 6 home games. This will be done purely to boost attendance at the home games and encourage fans to attend the games. This is a real possibility as the Wolfpack averaged out at 6,992 in their near 10,000 seater stadium.

Long term the introduction of these sides could really benefit the sport as a whole, in terms of practicality the RFL have their hands tied on how they enrol these clubs, on the one hand it's not fair to throw them straight into Super League as other teams have to earn that privilege but on the other hand is it fair to have part time teams in The Championship 1 taking on experienced, internationally capped players who are simply passing through as a way of keeping the peace, it's a lose lose under those circumstances. I personally feel that there should be a requirement of a minimum of 5 home grown players in the squad, otherwise it's just a constant recruitment cycle and the game never really develops in those countries, either way with the current growth of popularity in Canada, implementing an America side too doesn't seem like that much of a bad idea.

Pom




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