Super League CEO Calls for Changes to the World Club Challenge
Robert Elstone, CEO of Super League, wants change in the World Club Challenge (WCC). He believes that by changing the location and the month of the WCC, it can get the real prominence that it deserves.
Elstone is already in discussions with the National Rugby League (NRL) about the timing and the venues.
The Super League Boss has highlighted the United States, Middle East and South East Asia, as possible hosts of the WCC, and is planning for the month of October.
“The game generally is played over here, it’s generally played pre-NRL season, therefore, inevitably it has less impact, less resonance,” Elstone said.
“Playing it pre-season NRL clearly doesn’t help. Playing it in winter in the UK probably doesn’t help. Playing at one of the team’s venues probably detracts from it slightly.
“I think the end of season slot would be a good one. If it can be delivered the week after two grand finals [in October], that it’s played in a venue that’s accessible but commensurate it with the stage and what we are trying to achieve here.”
There is an enormous potential with the WCC and when you have the best British European Super League Team against the best National Rugby Team, there should be fireworks. The WCC should generate huge crowds, which in turn would generate huge money and economic benefits to the players, supporters, workers and of course, the city where it takes place.
When the WCC is played in Australia pre-season, its prominence is overlooked. When it is played in England, the winter weather is not on its side. And playing at one of the team’s own venues is also controversial.
Elstone is thinking WCC should be at the end of the rugby season and in a venue that is accessible to all and friendly to all. The stadium must be filled, no matter which stadium is chosen.
“If we’re looking at growing it and making it really, really big and making it something that we can put in the shop window for the whole world to see, then you have to consider a playing slot that fits better.
“None of these things are particularly easy to fix but I think if we really want to put some equity and value into World Club Challenge, then these are things we have to look at,” he said.
Rugby is huge in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. Rugby is not huge in other continents although interest is gradually growing.
“This is the World Club Challenge. It is the best British European Super League team against the best NRL team, so there’s huge potential in this. I don’t think the game generally is leveraging, exploiting that potential. I think it’s down to us, and colleagues in the NRL to see if we can make this the real special thing that it should be, simply by looking at the title and by this trophy behind us,” he added.
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