Tri Nations Challenge for the ARL

The Australian Rugby League has set itself a significant challenge with the tri-nations series to get under way in Auckland on Saturday week. The ARL will have to hope that interest in international league has been strengthened by the fact it is no longer a one country affair. Because the series is being played at a time when there is ample opposition to take up the interest of spectators and viewers alike. The six games in the series will take place between 14 October and 18 November, with the final a week later. Matches will be played in New Zealand, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. The cricket season proper does not start for a few weeks, but the Poms play their first game against the PM?s 11 on 10 November. In the meantime, Australia will be taking part in the one tournament it has never won ? the ICC Chairman?s Trophy in India?.and it will be covered live on Fox. The A League national soccer competition is now well under way ? and drawing good crowds, especially in Melbourne. The other ?competition? ? if you could call it that ? is the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne. The Kangaroos v Kiwis game at Telstra Dome in Melbourne will be played a few hours after one of racing?s premier events ? the Caulfield Cup ? is run a few kilometres away. Now it will be argued, with some validity, that the rugby league ?market? is a different one from that of cricket, racing, and even soccer. The challenge for the ARL is to get respectable crowds at all tri nations matches in Australia. The NZRL ought to be able to get good crowds at the matches in NZ, given that the Kiwis are the reigning champions???.but the ?crowds? this year at Warriors home games were dreadful. It will be interesting to see what television and radio coverage the series gets. Nine was happy to televise tests from the UK (often on delay) when it was in the early hours of Sunday morning last year??but will Nine televise the tri nations matches live in peak Saturday evening viewing time? The other challenge the ARL is going to have to meet is to maximise media coverage generally for the tri nations series. In the traditional off season, that will be no easy task. The tri nations series is a ?must? for the survival, and growth, of the game internationally. But it must also be successful ? and that will be a real challenge for the game?s administrators in every respect!

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