While the World Cup has just ended, the International Federation seems overwhelmed by its members: by the NRL for rugby league and by the RFL for the XIII Armchair.
The International Federation, regardless of the sport, is the guarantee of the rules of the game, but also of the smooth running of the competitions. It must establish a global framework for sport and also for the competitions it organises. Today, it does not seem in action, but rather in mimicry when powerful federations take action.
The NRL lays down the law, the IRL plays the sheep
For several years, it is no longer the International Federation that manages the rules of the sport, but the NRL and the ARLC. The international organization takes up almost all the new features put in place by the antipodes championship without thinking about whether or not it is adapted to international rugby. At the World Cup, all NRL rules, except the two-point drop, have been applied while the Super League also applies most of the added/modified rules. The problem in this approach is that the International Federation no longer has control and that what is good for the XIII in Australia, a country where it is highly professionalized, is not good for developing countries.
The example of the Six Again
The introduction of the Six Again in the NRL would like to make rugby league even more spectacular and with fewer stoppages. We can already ask ourselves the question of its relevance in the NRL, because if the matches are even more intense, more spectacular than before? There is debate in this case but the problem with this rule is that the strong are even stronger and the weak even weaker. We saw it at the World Cup with a lot of river scores for example. Before considering reducing the number of teams for future World Cups, having adapted rules of the game would already be a good thing. For semi-professional players and for developing countries, the Six Again does not make the matches more spectacular, but on the contrary more messy.
The Six Again further widened the gap between the strong nations and those emerging as the but was to attempt to narrow it. The International Federation should have analyzed the effects of this rule to then see the relevance of its application.
XIII Armchair: who makes the rules?
The final of the XIII armchair World Cup gave birth to an unprecedented refereeing cacophony. After listening to the different actors after the game, we understand that this stems from the fact that the French and British referees do not apply the same rules. How is it possible that in the most important match for this sport, a World Cup final, the officials do not apply the same rules. It would seem that the RFL, the second strongest federation after Australia, is pushing for a more spectacular wheelchair rugby league while the FFR XIII has a more conservative position.
This in-between is not acceptable for a sport with such potential and with actors who achieve technical performances and incredible physique. The International Federation must take things in hand there too to provide a clear and precise framework with referees trained and prepared to put it in place.
The International Federation must regain control
Through these two examples, we understand the influence of the strong Federations, which have much more financial means than the International Federation. If the IRL cannot impose anything on the NRL or the RFL for domestic competitions, it must regain control for the overall framework of the sport and obviously on the competitions it organizes. So who’s the boss?