NZ may miss out on big 2017 World Cup games

New Zealand may be left without even the chance to host a semifinal at the 2017 World Cup if the New Zealand Rugby League's joint bid with Australia is successful.

The 2013 Rugby League World Cup will make a profit of around $6 million for the Rugby League International Federation and has raised the bar on what needs to be achieved at the next tournament in four year's time.

Two bids were made to host the 2017 World Cup last week, one from South Africa and a joint one from Australia and New Zealand.

Taking the World Cup to South Africa would help spread the game globally, but there is a financial risk in doing that, while the joint ARL/NZRL bid has a better chance of making a big profit for the RLIF, with that money invested back into the game around the world.

Last Thursday, both bids were presented to a panel who are expected to make their decision early next year.

NZRL CEO Phil Holden was part of the team that presented the Australasian bid and said a key objective for them was to show the RLIF that they can continue the financial success from this year's World Cup.

However, that means the majority of games will be played on the other side of the Tasman and if the bid is successful, a Special Purpose Vehicle - a group that Holden would like to see established to run the World Cup - would determine where the semifinals are played.

"We are looking at having a pool in New Zealand and three pools in Australia, but with one of those pools shared with Papua New Guinea," Holden said.

"The quarterfinals would be split between Australia and New Zealand.

"We would love to have a semifinal in New Zealand, but the vehicle that's established to look at the financial reality of it, will determine where that will be. "So we have to face the prospect that we may not have a semifinal in New Zealand.

"But we're confident that the desire to hold a semifinal in New Zealand would be pretty strong amongst our key stakeholders and partners." While this year's World Cup can be regarded as a success, what it has brought to light is the lack of international games for the smaller nations outside of the tournament.

RLIF chairman Scott Carter says they are looking to establish an international executive, with its own offices, charged with running the game and their first objective is to sort out the global calendar, particularly to give more games to the Pacific Islands.

"One of the issues that's troubled the game for a number of years is having a cohesive international calendar," Carter, also the NZRL chairman, said.

"At the moment, you have a World Cup cycle and that's only just been bedded in to a four-year cycle and around that there are regional tournaments.

"The European Cup (between minnow nations) is played most years, but the Asia-Pacific region is still struggling to find that cohesion.

"There is a framework for international competition, but it's not yet cohesive.

"That's what will happen over the next year, once we have that executive team in place and they can work on that full-time." An independent and powerful international executive, like Fifa in soccer and the IRB in rugby that could make decisions based on the needs of individual countries, could take the sport to the next level and put more of a focus on test footy. As it stands the NRL and Super League hold nearly all of the power in the game and those needs are serviced first.

But the USA remains a big issue for the RLIF. While they did extremely well in making it to the quarterfinals, the game is a basketcase in the States, with two rival organisations, the AMNRL and USARL, battling for power.

While Carter sees the potential for huge growth in the game in the States, funding won't come their way until there's just the one national body.

"The USA is not even yet a fully fledged member," Carter said. "They are working on internal structural issues and we certainly want to encourage that.

"The RLIF recognises just one governance body within each nation and there are very clear membership criteria for each country.

"The first opportunity for the USA is to meet that, especially given that they have overachieved at this tournament and we're very keen to see them progress.

"We are also keen to see South Africa once again become a full member and participate in the World Cup.

"There are some people with some very good intentions, but having two groups is not healthy, you really need a single national governance structure and you need pathways for players and officials and that's what we want to see happen.

"We took a conscious decision that because they'd qualified for the World Cup, even with that duplicate structure, we'd allow them to participate and then from this point on give them more help to get that single national identity."

Sunday News