The sport that is worse than pole dancing and foot golf

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:30

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Imagine the humiliation of being told 'sports' like pole dancing, foot golf, dodgeball and kettlebell lifting is better than you.

That is what happened with the other oval-ball game, Rugby League - on the eve of the 13-man code's 15th World Cup.

The embarrassment comes just days after league's top official, Rugby League International Federation CEO David Collier, announced he was stepping down from the post.

The RLIF has been repeatedly frustrated in its bid to be recognised as a distinct sport from Rugby Union, which would allow it access to government funding and insurance for players in many countries where this is denied. In the United Arab Emirates self-administered rugby league is illegal, in South Africa it has been told it must be run by rugby union authorities and Morocco police have shut down matches.

The Global Association of International Sports Federations (formerly SportAccord) general assembly in Aarhus, Denmark, has announced it had accepted arm wrestling, dodgeball, foot golf, kettlebell lifting, poker, pole sports and table soccer as observers.

No reason for the continued rejection of Rugby League's long-standing application has been given.

A spokesman for GAISF said he would check on the situation and respond to an emailed Fairfax Media inquiry.

Collier was on a flight from London to Melbourne, where the World Cup opens on Friday, and unavailable for comment.

A confluence of a clause denying membership to any organisation that has a "rivalry" with an existing member and the rise of a rebel World Rugby League body in the Mediterranean and Middle East has been cited as one possible cause.

Rugby Union expressed reservations about the Rugby League application in 2016 - although World Rugby insisted these issues were "technical" in nature and not related to the 122-year war between the codes.

However, high-ranked League officials believe Rugby Union delegates may have played a role in bringing to GAISA's attention the new breakaway League body.

Another issue is whether the Rugby League activity in the 66 countries mentioned on the RLIF website meets GAISA's strict criteria.

Whatever the cause of this almost comedic sleight, it illustrates how far the sport has to go despite the goodwill surrounding the 14-team World Cup and talk of teams in places such as New York.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald