By Richard Cowley, Date: 25/11/13

It’s a question that has eluded the rugby league fraternity since France were a rugby league powerhouse back in the late 60’s early 70’s. Back in 1969 Neil Armstrong took “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. 

Fast forward to 2013 and rugby league has taken “One small step for man” which has been the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. The tournament has been a sensational success and provided highly entertaining and mostly competitive games. What the sport is still yet to achieve is the “One giant leap for mankind”, which would see a 4th, 5th or 6th nation able to hold their own against Australia, England and New Zealand in a Rugby League World Cup.

Can rugby league improve nations outside of the big three? Can Rugby League ever solve this conundrum?

The 2013 Rugby League World Cup has been the most competitive World Cup staged since the sport took the bold step to include 10 nations in 1995. The RLIF got it right this time with the 14 team 4 Pool format. The format really provided the competitive games required to engage the public and keep the sporting public interested throughout the tournament.

When the full time whistle blows for the World Cup Final match between Australia and New Zealand on Saturday attention must turn to solving this conundrum. We have just witnessed the best Rugby League World Cup ever and we need to go one better in 2017. The only way rugby league can go one better is if spectators can witness more competitive games throughout the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals of the tournament.

No one has managed to solve it in over 40 years so I am not going to confess to have all the answers here and now. Is there anything that can be done between now and 2017 to get rugby league a little bit closer to that holy grail of four, five or even six competitive nations at the top end of the sport?

This is where I hand it over to you the reader. 

What would you do over the next 4 years to improve nations outside of the big three?