The All Blacks v the Kangaroos. Rugby league v rugby union. Can you imagine it? Would you watch it? Are there other alternatives? Tiffany Salmond gives her thoughts on the potential match-up and more.
When I first heard the news of an All Blacks V Kangaroos cross-code show down, I wasn’t too sure how to feel about it.
The hype surrounding the match was due to the concept of two of the best teams in professional sport going at it in a headlining match for the ages – but that didn’t excite me.
To most people’s shock-horror, despite being a New Zealander; I’m not an All Blacks fan or a Union fan for that matter.
So the only redeeming quality of this spectacle was the high possibility of watching Rugbys’ beloved All Blacks getting torn to shreds by the Kangaroos impeccable backline.
This game meant bragging rights.
I’ve lost count of the heated debates I’ve had surrounding the age-old League VS Union argument so this announcement meant I’d have a few people eating their words… So I was all in!
Backing my code instead of my country may lead some to believe I’m a traitor but when it comes to our great game, I have dedicated my time to uplifting New Zealand Rugby League as it often doesn’t get a lot of support in this country.
My passion for NZ rugby league led me to consider what it would have meant for our game if the Kangaroos decided to play the Kiwis instead of giving the opportunity to an already flourishing team and organisation.
If anyone needed a lifeline right now, it was NZRL.
Even before Covid-19, the game could have done with more support but due to it being such a great product and with the support of dedicated people with a die-hard love for league, it survives.
Australia is one of the few countries where rugby league thrives and isn’t the under-dog in terms of popularity and public perception.
They arguably have the highest proportion of talent as well as owning the largest domestic competition in the world – the NRL.
Taking all of this into consideration, it’s fair to say Australia has a huge responsibility to help grow the game but sadly, as we can see with their decision to play the All Blacks for a cash-grab over another Rugby League team, it doesn’t appear to be a priority.
And here’s a thought; if the All Blacks are really wanting to go against the best in world rugby league, maybe they should be looking at booking a date with Tonga instead?
Now this isn’t the first time they’ve prioritised their own interest over the betterment of the game.
Last year, the Great Britain Lions played a test against every other country in the Oceania Cup – except for Australia.
The Kangaroos snubbed a test with the Great Britain Lions because they didn’t want it to interfere with their NRL duties.
On top of rejecting the Lions who were playing for the first time since 2007, the boys in green and gold refused to participate in the Oceania Cup until after the NRL Grand Final as they didn’t want to distract their players during the Origin period.
Before an international schedule can be finalised, it has to be run past major domestic leagues (NRL and Super League) and players unions before it can be confirmed.
With the NRL being the organisation which has the majority of international players on contracts, they have the monopoly and can pick and choose what suits them as they hold the power.
If rugby league is going to grow on the international stage, Australia needs to be on board to facilitate it.
The first step would be to lend a helping hand to their little brother New Zealand and play the Kiwis in the only international sports match the world will have the chance to witness in 2020.
Let’s put our game on show, because what better opportunity do we have than now when the whole world is watching?