The Alitalia European Cup
So far so good. France have played before good crowds including one of 14000+ against an Ireland side who are not a big draw. Likewise, Wales have seen an improved crowd against a Scotland team without any big stars which is encouraging. We can't be complacent and an attendance of 700 approx for the Scotland v Wales match is not good enough. The Ireland/Scotland teams contain very few home based players unlike the Welsh/French but we are making progress and building soild foundations. We have attracted a prestigious sponsor and wasn't it great to see neutral referees too?
The European Cup 2010 can be regarded as a success and I am deliberately writing this before the end of the tournament. Maybe other countries e.g. Italy, Serbia, Russia etc could be included, it should be held on regular basis and England should compete too. A similar competition should be organised in the southern hemisphere along the lines of the Pacific Cup and if Australia and NZ are included the status of the competition would be enhanced. These competitions would probably lose money in the short term but we must persevere. The RU authorities have shown the way with Italy in the six nations, who are very competitive and still improving
Meanwhile, a tired looking England side played against a NZ Maori side containing ex-Kangaroo Timana Taho. It beggers belief I know but at least oirishmen Chris Bridge and Ben Harrison weren't playing for England.
As a sport we should prioritise internationals and play matches during June/July when everybody is fresh. Clubs in both SL and the NRL would have to play without their top players as happens in both cricket and RU. Maybe central contract would help this but I seriously doubt it will happen because RL will continue to prioritise club competitions and continue to stagnate. Other sports e.g. cricket and RU prioritise international competition and expand. We are falling behind as a result.