THE fate of the 2018 World Club Series remains unguaranteed, despite victories for both Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves.
The Super League teams secured a 2-0 victory over their NRL counterparts, who up to that point had won all 6 matches since the inaugural series in 2015.
Steve Mascord of the Sydney Morning Herald said: “The World Club Series, if not the World Club Challenge itself was thought to be in a bit of jeopardy.”
A lack of interest from the NRL side of things. Four teams turned down the opportunity to come before Brisbane accepted, so we certainly needed a good result from the northern hemisphere teams and that’s what we got.”
The impact of this remains to be seen however, because no one from the NRL came, so there was no official from the NRL here for the two games over the weekend.”
He added: “They’re the ones I guess, who are going to be supporting the continuation of the concept, so the jury’s out as to what impact it’s really going to have.”
Northern Hemisphere clubs have historically had more success in the World Club Challenge. They have now won 13 of the 24 matches (discounting the 2010 Melbourne Storm victory), but have been dominated in recent years.
Since 2012 the NRL salary cap has been increased by 2.6 million Australian dollars – this has been widely viewed as responsible for their run of successes.
Mascord also commented on the view Australian fans have of the World Club Series: “I think some of them do look at these matches like say a Man U going out to Asia, or Australia to play exhibition games and the results really don’t matter.
You know, I guess if Western Sydney Wanderers managed to beat Man City in an offseason game they would get very excited in Sydney and no one would get too concerned back here.”
I think that probably is unfortunately, and I don’t agree with that viewpoint, but I think that is unfortunately the perspective of a lot of Australian fans and judging by the absence of NRL officials, maybe the perspective of them as well.”
The 2014 World Club challenge between Sydney Roosters and Wigan drew a crowd of 31,515 at the Allianz stadium in Sydney, which proved there was at least some appetite for the concept in Australia. Furthermore, the ANZ stadium in Brisbane set the record attendance for the World Club Challenge, when 54,220 people watched Wigan beat Brisbane in 1994.
— Sky Sports RL 🏉 (@SkySportsRL) February 19, 2017
RFL chief executive and RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood revealed the victories of the Super League teams had put the RFL in a better position to negotiate the arrangements for the 2018 World Club Series. He also made it clear that the series may not be held in the UK.
The NRL are yet to respond with regard to their commitment to the series.