By HAMISH NEAL
Last Friday at Eden Park, Australia beat New Zealand 20-12. The next evening at Centrebet Stadium, NSW won the first Under 20s State of Origin game, 18-14 over Queensland. On Sunday, City survived a big comeback from Country to prevail 24-12 at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Sports Complex.
Whilst having no club football no doubt benefited those three events in terms of gate receipts and media exposure, I think it was an opportunity lost for increased exposure of the sport .
I seem to remember around this time last year a story ran about the opportunity of playing an ANZAC Day game in Turkey tied in to the Gallipoli 100th year anniversary ANZAC Day commemorations. This got me to thinking about a good opportunity to expand the game with a day of international rugby league across the ANZAC weekend of 2015,
The perfect headline match for a day of international rugby league would be the Australia v New Zealand game in Turkey. The fixture could be played in nearby Canakkale – a town of about 100,000 with a 10,000 seat football stadium and with more facilities compared to the Gallipoli peninsula.
The Magic Weekend (ala Super League) format, outlined below, may be the best way to set up the weekend as it would mean those attending commemorations at Gallipoli could spend the whole day at the formalities before returning to Canakkale for the Test the following day. However, it could also be run over one day.
This format, I concede, would require compromises but I think with the opportunity to sell the game to the expanding TV markets and also travel packages for the Turkey match in particular, it could be very beneficial. The showcase game of Australia v New Zealand could be used to set the platform for the weekend and also engage other nations outside the Australia, New Zealand, England trio. The below plan is not limited to the matches or nations outlined.
They are just the ones I think could derive the most support, financially and TV viewer-wise.
So Super League, NRL, ARL Commission and RLIF – over to you.
Hamish Neal 2015 ANZAC Day international test rugby league plan:
WEEKEND APRIL 25/26 2015
Saturday April 25
Ireland v Scotland – Dublin, Ireland 1230pm, local time, 930pm AEST)
Wales v Exiles – Cardiff, Wales 230pm 1130pm (AEST)
England v France – Leeds, England 430pm 130am (AEST)
Sunday April 26
Cook Island v Tonga – Parramatta, Australia, 330pm AEST
Samoa v New Zealand Maori – Auckland, New Zealand, 730pm local time (530pm AEST)
Australia v New Zealand – Canakkale, Turkey 1230pm local time, 730pm (AEST)