By Brian Lowe,
Just two weeks out from the inaugural Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) 9s and before a ball has even been kicked in the much-anticipated tournament, organisers continue to wrestle with the fallout from two major developments.
First, the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) suspended Tonga’s membership over a standoff between the national governing body’s board and its players, which subsequently led to the NRL withdrawing its invitation to the Mate Ma’a to compete in the World Cup 9s.
Second, Lebanon’s NRL players decided to boycott the tournament because of a dispute they are having with their national governing body, meaning if the Cedars field a team it will be mostly made up of domestic-based players.
However, putting all the disruptive politics aside, the good news is that you, our RugbyLeaguePlanet readers, are largely of the opinion that this tournament will help grow the game in the Americas.
According to a poll that we ran on Twitter, most of you who voted feel that’s the case. We asked whether you thought the World Cup 9s will help raise awareness of rugby league in the Americas and here is what you said.
Not sure 13%
These results are pretty much in tandem with comments by USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson, who told us back in July that he thinks having the World Cup 9s available globally through live streaming will help promote the game in general to a wider audience, particularly in countries like the US.
“Look I really hope so and I think it will,” he said. “Being in the pool we’re in, we’re playing against three of the best teams in the world and that’s only going to help us get some exposure.
“People always want to see the best teams and see how the US matches up against them, so I’m really hopeful that it will help develop the sport, get us some recognition and get people talking about it.”
The Hawks are in Group A with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Rutgerson is expected to name the US 16-man squad within days.