The international RL season is about to begin and during the next month or so matches will take place in such diverse places as Belgrade, Padova, Philadelphia, Moscow and Limerick. These add to the locations already visited this year by the International RL community which include Gothenberg, Frankfurt, Cassablanca, Oslo, Copenhagen, Kharkov, Budapest and Toronto, way beyond the wildest dreams of most RL expansionsists.
Just a few short years ago, International RL was confined to just a few countries and the RFL and the RLEF should be commended for the progress made. In 1995, Maurice Lyndsey organised a ten team World Cup to celebrate the games centenary and big strides have been made since then. It's pity that the ARL, with all their resources cannot make an attempt at something similar in the Southern Hemisphere.
Problems still exist and the recent last minute tour cancellation by Samoa due to lack of funds was a big disappointment. If properly organised a Samoan European tour could be very profitable
Unfortunately, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France always seem to play each other as do Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and PNG if they play at all. There are teams and players crying out for fixtures if only the organisation was there. This is obviously a job for the RLIF (who in reality are the ARL) but it must be the most ineffective organisation in existence. RL officials are like merchant bankers and seem to be immune from the sack
Some of International RL's most memorable moments involved France playing in Australia. It's a long time since France toured the Southern Hemisphere
PNG are one of our most enthusiastic nations but they have no fixtures lined up. I can understand the reluctance of other teams in wanting to visit PNG when safety cannot be guaranteed but matches could be played in Australia. Visits to the Pacific Isles are very expensive but games against visiting teams could be played in Australia or NZ in front of large ex-pat crowds
I can recall some memorable matches involving PNG in Europe and a draw against Lancashire at St Helens in the 1980's springs to mind. PNG have not toured Europe for many years and another visit is surely overdue but it must be done properly. Last minute organisation and low key matches with little publicity are no good
Other opportunities exist and teams such as Lebanon, USA, SA, NZ Maori, Australian Aborigines, Cumbria etc could all visit our new found friends and spread the word
RL desperately needs to find some new markets outside it's traditional heartlands. North America and the Middle East are possibilities as are Wales and Ireland but we must put our products into the market place. The recent Grand Finals show how exciting out sport can be and demonstrate how much we have to offer