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Commentary: Tonga Too Poor to Make Rugby League World Cup Final

Commentary by Tres Capita

Rugby league is dying. It has been dying in most countries for years. Profits are at an all time low and fans are not coming to games. In Australia; AFL, cricket and rugby union have higher average attendance than league. Almost no NRL teams are generating a profit. The future looks grim - except for the Pacific Islands. PNG has adopted rugby league as its national sport. It is more popular here than in any other country, even Australia.
NRL makes money from selling broadcast rights to TV stations. More TV viewers usually means higher fees paid to the NRL. Tonga’s population of just over 100,000 isn’t going to fix NRLs money problems, but England’s 4 million league viewers might. You can guarantee that an England final will attract big numbers in their wealthy market, but few of those viewers are going to tune in to watch Tonga play.

Faced with a small Pacific nation or a major European nation for a grand final, the cash-strapped NRL must have been gritting their teeth and praying for England to beat Tonga. They got their wish. Now they can relax as the bigger money comes in to keep them afloat for another few months. Problem is, taking Pacific Islands for granted has gone on for too long.

Take out all of the Pacific Islanders from your Australian and international rugby league teams and what are you left with? Many of these countries have taken to NRL with more passion than any other nation, but times are changing. The subtle racism in the game is starting to be recognized and it is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many.

The mental giants of NRL have been treating countries in the Pacific like pathetic amusements, while treating Europe like god. But nobody in Europe cares about NRL. It is never going to be any bigger there than it is now. In the meantime the countries that are giving all the support are being ignored. They are noticing how much they are not appreciated and you can bet they will move their support to where it is appreciated, like union and soccer.

Tonga is not out because of the colour of their skin, but they might be out because of their wallets. By the time NRL realizes that its lustful pursuit of Europe is a waste of time and that the Pacific is way forward, it will be too late. Their fans will be gone and their finances will be destroyed. I won’t be sad to see the fall of another bastion of Australian arrogance in the Pacific. In fact, watching league destroy itself is great fun. Just when they seemed to be getting somewhere
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