International boss slams 'tuck shop' way Test game was run as World Cup broadcast worries continue | The Sun

INTERNATIONAL rugby league chiefs admit they were guilty of running themselves worse than a ‘school tuck shop’ as a battle to broadcast the World Cup in Australia drags on.

Tournament boss Jon Dutton insists he will not undersell the pinnacle of the 13-a-side code, just so it can be on screens in the home of the defending champions.

But even though this will be the best against the best, with at least four sides capable of winning it, no channel Down Under is enthusiastic enough to pay what they want just four months from its start.

And Troy Grant, head of the renamed International Rugby League, believes the reticence is born from previous failings – allowing Test matches to rank behind an ‘unconnected’ club game.

He also confirmed no transgender player was in line to be picked for the women’s tournament as rugby league followed swimming in banning them from elite competition.

And he said: “When I went in as chairman, our finances were done on Excel spreadsheets, I’ve seen school tuck shops’ finances run more professionally.

“We now have proper strategies and committees in place. I’ve tried to professionalise the organisation so we’re in a better position to have a professional conversation with professional leagues.

“They’ve got to have trust in us and we’ve missed that opportunity to do that in the past. I was reminded of a quote recently, ‘Rugby league often doesn’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’ History speaks for itself.

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“What I’ve seen is an inability to communicate with the key stakeholders, which are the clubs in the two professional leagues that provide the players about the value of international rugby league.

“That’s the greatest missed opportunity, to connect the international game with the professional leagues – there’s been a lack of communication and understanding of the value of internationals.

“There’s potential that’s been untapped.”

Dutton has met NRL and club bosses, as well as broadcasters, in Australia – a country that does not seem to care much for the international arena – the Kangaroos will not play a World Cup warm-up game here.

A mid-season representative window will disappear from the calendar there under a new TV deal for club games, with Grant admitting it will not return, ‘in the immediate future.’

And Dutton, who admits he is ‘frustrated’ things are taking so long, revealed they may have to go their own way by putting matches through an app.

But he warned meddling bosses – who were really behind Australia and New Zealand’s decision not to travel last year, leading to a 12-month delay – they will be going against the players.

He said: “Being here, the strength of feeling among players of wanting to represent their nation is like never before, that’s pretty special.

“There’s no lack of desire to broadcast the tournament but we don’t want to undervalue what we believe is incredible content.

“We have some offers, we need to keep talking to get the best deal for us and the best deal for the future – there’s another tournament in the same hemisphere following us.

“We have a Plan B, C and D. We’ve investigated direct-to-consumer and have spoken to other broadcasters. We want the best commercial deals.

“But my words won’t be as powerful as the players’ – the players want to play for their nation. That’s the most powerful thing of all.”

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