Photo Credit: Carolyn Ritchie
In the lead up to Christmas, RugbyLeaguePlanet ran a poll on Twitter to gauge our readers’ thoughts on whether or not the rugby league Americas Championship should be expanded, and the results were fairly one-sided.
Most of the respondents were of the opinion that, yes, it should be, although some also made suggestions that not all rugby league playing countries in Central and South America are up to par as yet.
Our latest poll: the #AmericasChampionship of #rugbyleague is contested by USA, Canada, Jamaica and Chile. Do you think more should be added i.e., Brazil, Nicaragua, Mexico? The response is below.
The reality is that the game has clearly not yet developed to the point where every country in the Americas is advanced enough to contest an international competition such as the Americas Championship, however, on the flipside, perhaps something similar to what happens in Europe may be worthy of consideration.
Currently, there are four levels of competition in the European men’s game. Apart from the top tier, different formats have been trialed for the lower tiers of B, C and D to account for the different levels of development of the game in various countries.
Unlike Europe, which plays a series of matches over a period of weeks, the Americas Championship, which features the top four ranked nations in the Americas region, is staged in one venue, usually over just two or three days at most.
Sticking to this format limits who can compete because of time constraints. In other words, people can only get so much time off from their jobs, meaning teams can only play a certain number of games in a restricted time frame.
One option may be to establish an Americas A and B system, with promotion and relegation dictating which countries compete at which level.
Or maybe another alternative could be to set up separate championships in North America, South America and Central America and make them qualifying tournaments for the Americas Championship the following year now that International Rugby League (IRL) has made it a biennial tournament.
Either way, the issue is something that probably should be considered by the Americas steering group, which is in the throes of being established, along with the merits of setting up a new Americas Confederation.