GB Lions tour doubts highlight Rugby League's International flaws

05 February 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson

New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters has confirmed that the Great Britain tour to the Pacific this year is still in some doubt.

Despite the idea having been touted for years now, it seems that there is still doubt about whether the venture can be relied upon to generate sufficient profit to make it worthwhile.

"It's very close to either a go or a no go," Peters told media in New Zealand.

"That decision will be made next week.

"We're still working towards a positive outcome, but there are a number of stakeholders in the mix who all have different things that need to be considered and one of the biggest things is the overall risk or success of the commercial testing, which we're currently evaluating.

"It looks positive, but there are a number of elements we need to tick off yet."

The fact that we have got to this late stage with the whole event still in doubt due to financial concerns is embarrassing.

If the game’s hierarchy in the UK wants the Great Britain brand to be revived properly then planning needs to start much earlier for key events like this.

The thinking seems to be that they want to be something comparable to the British & Irish Lions rugby union side.

Not even having a tour schedule in place for an event that’s taking place in a few months time only serves to highlight just how far away they currently are from achieving that vision.

One would also have thought that a heritage brand like Great Britain should have been able to attract enough sponsorship in both hemispheres to make the tour at least break even.

Uncertainty is never good for any business, and the ongoing uncertainty over the scheduling has probably affected the tour’s ability to generate revenue.

The key lesson to take away from this is that more time is needed to plan events in rugby league.

For the last decade there has been constant talk from the game’s international authorities about putting long-term schedules in place.

It never seems to happen. Or the schedule changes due to some sort of short-term issue, often generated in Australia.

The latest excuse you hear is that the RLIF only produce schedules – it’s up to individual countries to arrange fixtures themselves.

That needs to change. Rugby league currently looks very immature on the international stage, as though its structures are entirely unfit for purpose.

This Great Britain tour situation highlights this perfectly.

Until someone gets a proper grip on international rugby league our game will continue to look increasingly irrelevant on the global stage.

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