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Hope for England despite final defeat

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George Riley George Riley | 22:41 UK time, Sunday, 20 November 2011

Are England destined to be a permanent second or third best on the big stage to Australia and New Zealand? Or was the 30-8 Four Nations final defeat against the Kangaroos another vital step forward in coach Steve McNamara's long-term plan, focused on winning the 2013 World Cup?

Despite an impressive victory over New Zealand en route to the final, the host nation were ultimately undone by superior opposition on Saturday, leaving England fans and players alike wondering whether it was just the same old story.

Before the match, however, confidence in the camp had been high.

Popping into the home dressing room three hours before kick-off, you could feel the adrenalin and belief as the kit men and physios hung up jerseys 1-17. "Amarillo" blared out of the speakers and expectation was in the air.

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I had a quick chat with England coach Steve McNamara in the tunnel as the players returned from their final warm-up, asking him whether he was confident. "Very. This is going to be an exciting evening," was his reply.

And so it was. Yet it ended in the way it always tends to, Australia simply too good for England when it matters most.

Former Great Britain and England centre Keith Senior summed it up perfectly on BBC Radio 5 live just 10 minutes into the game: "England seem to have forgotten all the good things they did to beat New Zealand, everything they have worked so hard on, and have suddenly realised they are playing the mighty Australia."

England were good enough to beat the Kangaroos at Elland Road but the grandest theatre often triggers stage fright. Superstar full-back Sam Tomkins had a couple of awful moments as Tim Sheens' side targeted the Wigan man under the high ball, the half-back pairing of Rangi Chase and Kevin Sinfield did not click and the kicking game - so impressive against the Kiwis - was frustratingly unreliable.

England's first few sets in the opening period saw four different kickers - Chase, Sinfield, Gareth Ellis and Jon Wilkin, all kicking on the last tackle.

Senior was feeling every tackle: "There is far too much time, far too much respect here," he said. "Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston are playing in their dinner jackets out there and no-one is touching them."

For that, we must give Australia credit. This is a fabulous Aussie side and Lockyer's farewell game was destined to finish with him scoring the final try in a tournament victory.

As a rugby league fan, it was an honour to witness Lockyer's farewell. BBC commentator Dave Woods described the great man as "rugby league royalty" and it is not often an Aussie player receives a standing ovation on his exit from the post-match press conference in England.

Sheens said in that press conference that Australia's class in the outside backs was the difference against "a very good" England side. But in truth, the Green and Golds dominated all over the park.

Ryan Hall's penalty try - awarded after Thurston's high shot denied the Leeds man a touchdown in the corner - was the only real highlight for the hosts. Australia were denied three further scores by the video referee and could have been well clear.

While England were error-prone, Thurston produced his man-of-the-match display while carrying an injury. He only passed a fitness test on Saturday afternoon, while two other Aussies played despite illness.

But as much as this looked like just another epic England defeat in a major final, under McNamara, England have made, and continue to make, massive strides. There is every reason for optimism, every reason to see this upward curve continuing.

I spent Saturday night with the players and, while some were sombre, some distraught, McNamara was very matter of fact and full of hope.

"We went into the tournament as third favourites and made the final," he said. "We beat the world champions and scared the eventual winners, but came up short in the final."

The profile of the international game has risen, too, through this Four Nations tournament. There has been genuine interest in rugby league, and the fact that BBC Radio 5 live moved the traditional Saturday night 606 football phone-in to allow us to broadcast live from Elland Road was a major shot in the arm.

So what next for England? Well, that remains unclear, with next year's international fixture list still uncertain, and likely to be brief at best.

This has been a very long season, but in the absence of a Four Nations tournament next year there have to be competitive fixtures put in place for this team to improve.

Tomkins had an off-day at the weekend but will be a star at full-back for many years. Gareth Widdop, underused by McNamara in this tournament, will grow in stature and surely become an automatic choice for the number six shirt.

The forward pack has always been strong but Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley will not be around forever. James Graham is likely to benefit massively from joining Ellis, Widdop, Chris Heighington and Jack Reed by playing his rugby league in Australia's NRL next year.

Many feel - though  McNamara dodged questions on the issue - that streamlining Super League from the existing 14 teams would make the sport in Britain more competitive and yield a stronger national side. There would be more free time to play internationals too. But that is an issue for the Rugby Football League, and is not likely to change any time soon.

England fans will have faith following this showing, for this is a good England side that can get even better. But the team needs more games in the next two years for there to be any rewards at the 2013 World Cup.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    No there is no hope and I cannot believe that people are stupid enough to fall for the same rubbish for 25 years. Every time we hear "oh we are getting closer to Australia, next time we ll beat them". When it truly counts we don't ever. Yes we may win a group match, a dead rubber of the first if a three Test series (before losing the second by a few points then a hammering in the decider) but not THE match that really counts.

    It is simply astonishing that our rugby league team who, let's face it only have two teams to beat, are incapable of winning a tournament with both of those teams involved in decades. They say rugby league players are failed footballers and they certainly seem to share the same brain power as do the naive fans who continually believe that we are about to beat Australia.

    Sure cricket and Union have their lows (union right now) but at least glory days are in the memory of nearly all the adult population. League and football? You have to be 50 plus to actually remember being the best.

    I like League as a sport and don't doubt our players are trying and no one wants us to win more than me. This is why my frustration and anger that we never learn our lessons and once again suffer the humiliation of the Aussies actually feeling sorry for us.

    I say give England ten years to win Four Nations or the World Cup and if we don't let's give up and stop embarrassing our nation.

    For goodness sake it's two teams with a combined population of half of ours that we have to beat.

    Shocking.

  • Comment number 2.

    Firstly congratulations to Australia and though I wanted England to win, was glad Lockyer got the chance to go out on a high. Compared to the thugs like Rooney and Terry we seem to hero worship in this country, Lockyer is a shining example of what it means to be professional as a sportsman.

    #1 You know people said the same thing in New Zealand 20 years ago where the game was restricted to Auckland and they seemed to be unable to overcome Australia in the big matches. Since then they became the first team to beat Australia in Sydney for 17years, the first to beat them in a series in 26years in 2005 and have won the Tri Nations/Four Nations twice and won the World Cup in Australia at a packed Suncorp. The reasons for this turnaround are because the Warriors now play in the NRL and their youth system now mirrors the Aussie one. Last year NZ teams reached the grand final in the NSW Cup, Toyota Cup and the NRL. There are now more New Zealand players than ever playing in the Aussie competitions (almost a quarter of Toyota cup players are Kiwi). They don't fear the Kangaroos now and recently Australia can't seem to beat them in the big matches.

    As for England I've said it before but we need more games against Australia to get used to the intensity. We need more players playing in the NRL particularly backs. Lastly we need a different outlook so we should try to get Aussie NRL winning coaches like Wayne Bennet or Des Hassler in. My personal preference would be Phil Gould, since "Gus" loves slagging off the English team so he can obviously see the things that need to be improved.

  • Comment number 3.

    # 1 I said the same thing just before the tournament started and had my comment removed by the mods and whinging League fans.

    Take a look here:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/georgeriley/2011/10/england.html

    My post was # 1 and they removed it. I said the same thing. England ALWAYS lose the first match. WIN the second. EVERYONE thinks they have turned the table and then end up being HAMMERED in the final match. That is EXACTLY what happened again. I wouldn't be surprised if your or my comments are removed.

  • Comment number 4.

    Re the penalty try, I have to ask: What do you have to do to get a yellow or red card these days? Actually kill someone? Thurston should not have been on the pitch after that point.

    I really can't see the point of having an England and a Wales team. Get Team GB back and invest more time in the French national side, as well as other developing teams. Or go the whole hog and have a Scotland and Ireland team, and include the French in a 5 nations tourney to get people used to playing test level games.

    Anything has to be better that what we have now.

  • Comment number 5.

    Rugby League players are failed footballers? Gongratulations you win the prize for 'Most stupid comment' and in the first post too well done!
    Now back to reality - the tournamnet was indeed a success but you have the feeling the final was a missed opportunity to get some real positive headlines for Rugby League. The Aussies and the Kiwis have the ability to step up in the big games. This is perhaps that the NRL competition is stronger and exposure of Origin pressure is invaluable. For long term success we need Internationals and I would bring back a Lions tour it's what players and genuine fans want. That means the SL comp needs to be reduced and rethought (two french teams is a must!) although this wont happen why not £££££££££££££££ thats why. If the powers that be are happy to sacrifice the long term future of the game for short term financial gain then we are in trouble

  • Comment number 6.

    Prior to this match I felt hope, but by no means optimism - no right-minded England supporter could ever allow themselves to feel optimistic against the Kangaroos after all these years. Then kick off came and the deja vu quickly came flooding back. I remembered what it's felt like every time I can remember that hope being crushed by blokes in green & gold.
    But I don't despair, as I know full well that a Yorks-Lancs-Cumbria combined 13 vs. the cream of Queensland and NSW is always likely to be a bit one-sided. Why? Natural top sporting talent in the schools of Queensland and NSW is pushed towards rugby league and nurtured accordingly, while natural sportsmen in the schools of the three counties, like the rest of England, are pushed towards the armless game of association football, unless their family and neighbourhood roots lie in rugby league or another sport. As such, Australia's pool of rugby league players, from age 5 to adulthood, stands at about half a million, while England probably has less than 100,000. Australia could easily field the top five rep teams in the world and the Gold Coast Titans, 2011 NRL wooden spoon winners, would probably be in the top four in Super League. This is not the same in the other code, simply because the profile of rugby union in Australia is similar to its profile in England, i.e. it's the third or fourth choice sport, while rugby league enjoys an enviable dominance in eastern Australia and is still suppressed and largely contained in the UK. I'm sad for our national team, but still delighted that our sport dominates on a market where it's competing against union, Aussie rules and association football. This continues to prove that rugby league is a game that can be top of the tree in a sport-mad environment. We can't expect Australia to drop its standards to assist the international game. We just have to accept that we're all mere Earthlings, while Australians are natives of Planet Rugbyleague.
    What we can do is try to get our top players used to a more intense level of competition: England undoubtedly upped the tempo in the second half on Saturday, but for every gear shift they found Australia managed to hit a higher one. We need a three-match England vs. Exiles series mid-season and maybe an England vs. Europe (best players from Wales, France, Scotland, Ireland) series at season's end. If this means too many games in the season, then we either have to (this may be blasphemous) drop the challenge cup for super league teams or introduce a 'by' in the Super League (I wouldn't drop the number of clubs and would rather have a 16-team comp with 'by' weeks like the NRL).

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm disappointed like every RL fan, but feel a little perspective is needed. Compared to 2 years ago, we were better in pretty much every game we played - beating Wales more convincingly than we beat France, matching Australia for longer in the group game, thrashing NZ, and conceeding less tries in our 2nd half flop in the final. Small seeds of comfort maybe, but when you think how bad we were last year down under, and the number of new players being added to the squad, some hope all the same.

    By the World cup, Widdop can come in for Sinfield, Lomax for Chase, and we'll have some real quality in the backs.

    As for next years fixtures, for me it's got to be a 3 series tour of NZ. Will provide just the sort of intensity we need without the potentially confidence sapping game with Australia. Will hopefully create the confidence and squad mentality that will set us up well for the World cup.

    I do agree that SL needs to be reduced in numbers and also that promotion and relegation needs to return to improve the intensity of SL. The competition has needed to be as big as possible so the biggest pool of clubs have had an income sufficient to make the required changes. Hopefully this will be the last license period, with the youth developments bearing fruit and most clubs having met stadium criteria. So not to lose the momentum, promoted clubs could be expected to meet such criteria, and relegated clubs could receive parachute payments, so to prevent the panic buying of sub-standard Aussies we have seen in the past when relegation was seen as win or bust. For me liscencing has done a lot of good at club level, but can't go on forever as we need greater intensity in Super League.

  • Comment number 8.

    The answer is simple? we dont have the players! Who convinced the plodder sinfield he was a stand off? frankly he shouldbt be in the team, Chase? is right he chased his own tail, where are the centres?. As for Tomkins? well he is suspect with the high balls, thats exactly what the Aussies did bombed him and he bottled it! Stop importing the Aussie players produce our own then we might have a chance?

    How many English players would have been selected in the Aussie team to play in the final? I suspect none!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    So sad to see the "doom and gloom" from the English RL supporters. I am an Aussie living in the UK and of course happy to see the Kangaroos win. But did you really think the Aussies were going to let Darren Lockyer lose his last ever match of rugby league? This emotional drive was behind Queensland winning the 3rd State of Origin match and was repeated in the international arena on Saturday.

    In the NRL, they talk alot about the 1, 6, 7 & 9 axis as the key playmakers who dominate the game and here the Aussies have Boyd/Slater, Lockyer, Thurston and Smith - all are regarded the best in their position having won the Golden Boot awards on many occasions (but Benji Marshall is the equal of Lockyer/Thurston). All 4 play for Queensland and Australia and know each others game intimately - NSW can't beat them, so England shouldn't be too disappointed either. Sam Tomkins has potential, but he'll need to learn to take the high ball. Robey is honest and good from dummy half but hardly a playmaker. Chase was an interesting option but he wouldn't even make a NZ or Aus 3rd-string team. And Kevin Sinfield is a great club man, but best played as an additional playmaker from 13.

    Moving forward, England need to get their young players to step up so that you have substantial competiton for each starting place:
    - Graham, Carvell, Crabtree, George Burgess etc should fight for the starting prop.
    - Sam Burgess (remember him), Ellis, Wilkin, Westwood, Jones Buchannan should fight for second row.
    - O'Laughlin, Sinfield, Westerman and Heighington should fight for lock.

    But the gaps lie in your halves and hooker roles - Lomax and Myler need to step up and fight for the halves. Who will drive competiton with Robey at 9? Who will compete with Widdop for number 6? If this competition is encouraged, then you will truly be competitive in a final.

    And someone needs to make sure England tour either Australia or NZ in 2012 or one of those teams to tour England.

  • Comment number 10.

    A lot of gloom and doom in the UK. No here in Australia, It is all joy and sunshine. Look, I watch Super League regularly and I go to NRL games. England has the players. What you don't have is confidence. You can have all the skill in the world but if you don't have confidence then forget about turning up. England doesn't need better player or more training. England needs a good sports physiologist to sort out the heads of the England players.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would actually agree with Big Mal. Jamie Peacock looked very nervous in the tunnel before England actually came on to the pitch. If the captain is looking nervous before a ball has been passed, what hope for the rest of the team? Aside from a handful of players who showed no signs of nerves at all - and that reflected in their performances - England bottled it, and I include Sam Tomkins, wonderkid, in that. He was the same against Australia last year too. Big games bring out the big game players and we don't have enough big game players. Of the foreign contingent playing for England, only Jack Reed came out with any dignity at all.

    I'm done with the excuses. McNamara took no notice of history and played players out of position in our most vital positions. He played a loose forward at stand off and a stand off at scrum half and left a good stand off cooling his heels on the bench. How utterly ridiculous.

    Let's get a coach who has actually won something and so knows how to win things. Let's get our best young hopefuls into those positions we have failed to fill appropriately so far and develop them into the spine of our national team of the future. Let's have a locally based international series in the autumn - stuff the Aussies and their self-importance - and use the series to develop a new, young team taking the best players from this series and ditching the rest. The England Knights were supposed to be the development team, well put those young blokes in there, develop them and then promote the best into the England squad for the northern hemisphere series in the autumn when France and Wales can also promote their development.

    None of that will happen of course because the problems with international rugby league are systemic. But if the RFL does not do something radical soon the fans will give up, go home and not come back.

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh dear...another defeat...why oh why did we think it'd be any different ? The Aussies are light years ahead...they simply produce more quality players.

    For my money we didn't play enough Rugby, expecting the Aussies to make mistakes is like waiting for a leap year. The Aussies kicked amazingly well...Tomkins was constantly taking the ball on his own line with a line of green falling on him. Our kicks were very poor by comparison.

    Great comp tho, Wembley was brill...shame the Aussies cant see outside their backyard and want a rest next year. Why cant we tour NZ or play Samoa instead ?

    We do need to reduced the number of overseas players, slowly but surely, two per team should be the max (although maybe an extra one genuinely from a developing nation e.g. Ireland). Reward SL places on the ability to produce local players e.g Salford - they need to get more ARL teams set up. Oh and reduce the play-offs to top six only.

    I was at Lang Park in 92 and back then we could take RU players to fill the backline (still lost), now we need to produce more and more players. There are some green shoots, Leeds, Wigan Saints have started really well with the youngsters...Wakey, Cas, KR etc need to produced more.

    Still the greatest sport.

  • Comment number 13.

    Very interesting? all us armchair critics, Aussie or English, all know what England need. So how come the England coaching set up dont know? A 1,6,7,9,13. Thats what the pride of the British game used to be!

    What was the last time an English coach? with an English team won anything?

  • Comment number 14.

    PiesNTries,

    RFL announced last week they'll pay each club who provides a Ayer to Emgland or the Knights 100k per player per season, which won't be counted in salary cap. I'd say that's pretty good incentive to produce Engllish talent.

    We are moving in the right direction, but it won't happen overnight. Unfortunately after 30 years of hurt, its understandable that people are getting impatient tho

  • Comment number 15.

    It's just the same old story every time. The only meaningful game in the 4 Nations is England v NZ as it decides who plays Australia in the final. In the northern hemisphere that tends to mean England who then lose to Australia, in the southern hemisphere NZ who may just actually beat the Australians if they stop trying to be the most indisciplined team in the universe. It's just a shame Australia always resort to gamesmanship in order to get their perefered referee, they don't need that advantage.
    Club RL is always put before internationals in this country, any plans the RFL try to implement are never given time to develop, we need a patient long-term plan and not a constant series of half-hearted quick fix failures.

  • Comment number 16.

    As an outsider looking in can I suggest this as a possible solution - a bi-annual internation league where for one year you have the SL and NRL and then the sencond year you have the top 4 SL and top 4 NRL play in a competion - one year down-under and the other year over here. Then the year of the SL/NRL comp you could allow the top half of the previous seasons NL into the SL for additional experience.

    Madcap I know but so were playoffs, a colony beating us at a sport we invented and Bradford getting called by a monniker Bulls......

  • Comment number 17.

    So England lose to Australia yet again but, quite frankly, hardly anyone cares! It’ll be interesting to see what the viewing figures for Saturday are and compare them to those for the Leicester-Ulster union match being played and broadcast simultaneously. My gut feeling is that the viewing figures would be split 50/50 between the two though I also suspect that the combined total would have been derisory. For League to be taken seriously it should surely trounce a union club match in this instance. Getting only 40,000 at Wembley when the weather was fine and tickets were practically being given away says it all and now Sam Tomkins is being given a trial at a union exhibition game to see if he’s good enough to make the switch. And Wigan (or should that be the Saracens development team) are fully supportive of it!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes it is the same old tale again but there is a wider issue. If you look at NZ and Australia teams of recent years they often have a few Pacific Islanders, presumably qualifying on residency/parentage who sensibly see the opportunity to play RL at the highest level. If there were to be a sixth test side (Pacific Islands or similar name) comprising of players from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands etc. then the adoption of these players by Australia and NZ may decrease thus making international RL wider and the teams closer in terms of talent. A look at Samoan, Fijian and Tongan sides from the last World Cup should give an indication of just how much ability such a team could have. Maybe even a team like the NZ Warriors in the NRL or even SL? Has this ever been debated in international RL circles or is the current situation much too cosy for Australians to want change?!!

  • Comment number 19.

    What was the England game-plan on Saturday ? I like these blogs but why can't we have more tactical analysis of the games ? Saying the half backs 'did not click' doesn't explain why they didn't work. Why was Sinfield kicking on the fourth tackle straight to the Aussie full-back, why on maybe two occasions did Sinfield carry the ball in on the 5th tackle so he wasn't even there to kick it ? Why didn't the coach bring on Widdop for either Sinfield or Chase when the half back combination wasn't working and England were still in the game rather than bringing him on when it was effectively over ? Or maybe McNamara could have moved Tomkins into the half backs as he was having a poor game and being targetted at full-back ?

  • Comment number 20.

    Penboy, if you are so disinterested in RL why bother post? I live in London and was delighted to be in a pub on Sat where the RL was on a big screen with commentary and the RU bore fest am Swansea and Man U were relegated to small screens.

    Come back when u have some stats to back up your boreish oppions.

    On a positive note, great to see Magic moved to the City of Manchester stadium. Proximity to heartlands should now give the event the attention it deserves, especially with BBC sport now in Salford

  • Comment number 21.

    Lets be honest, international RL is not a level playing field.

    RL in Australia is arguably their #1 sport and for them to lose any international tournament is going to be the exception, not the norm.

    The highest standard of rugby of any code isn't even international, it's the State of Origin series. Maybe the best idea would be to expand that competition by adding NZ and GB.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm with #10 - we (almost) have the players, but we don't have the mindset. It looked to me like a lot of the England players thought that they just needed to turn up and were like rabbits in headlights when they realised they needed a lot more than that. In a way I'm glad we lost, as McBanana would've been hailed a genius had we won.

    We need to work with NZ and have annual test series in order to both get better and improve the international game.

    With #12 as well - still the greatest sport.

  • Comment number 23.

    17.At 13:28 21st Nov 2011, Penboy wrote:
    So England lose to Australia yet again but, quite frankly, hardly anyone cares! It’ll be interesting to see what the viewing figures for Saturday are and compare them to those for the Leicester-Ulster union match being played and broadcast simultaneously.


    LIVE EUROPEAN RUGBY (SAT 1529) 142000
    LIVE FOUR NATIONS RUGBY LEAGUE (SAT 1730) 247000

  • Comment number 24.

    Hey #23, nice one Bulls eye!!!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    23: Which site can you get the viewing stats from. Intrigued to see the differences.

  • Comment number 26.

    https://www.barb.co.uk/report/weekly-top-programmes?_s=3

    I actually got the rugby union wrong, its:

    LIVE EUROPEAN RUGBY (SAT 1744) 173000

  • Comment number 27.

    Ruby league often pips rugby union in TV viewing stats. Why that is I don't know but it does.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fair play, I said it would be 50/50 (gut feeling) and it works out at 59/41. Total viewers for both of 420,000 is though derisory and shows just how little people care about rugby in general.

  • Comment number 29.

    Disappointment for England again, but I do feel we are making some progress. I was asked before the game by a couple of Union fans, who I'd collared to watch the game with, how I thought we'd do. I was upbeat, but stated that "if it mirrors previous years, then it'd be close for 60mins and then we'll end up getting battered!" Surprise surprise.

    We do seem to be getting closer though and maybe a significant part of it could be the mindset and a lack of games at a similar intensity. Streamlining Super League could be the answer. If you watch the NRL, the majority of the games are very close and quite low scoring in comparison to SL. You certainly don't tend to see the big blowout scores you see over here. Reduce the number of teams and it should result in a concentration of the talent and create more competitive games every week. However, that is no good if the talent is made up of foreign imports. Reducing the number of teams would also free up fixture space in the calendar and allow more games along the lines of the "Exiles" game played last year to be fitted into the calendar. Maybe more origin series games too. Playing a couple of friendlies against France and Wales every year may help them, but it doesn't really do anything for improving the England team. Not saying that I have all answers here, but something needs to change if we are going to bridge the gap between us and Australia.

    Final point would be to do with the officiating and the rules of the game. How can there be one set of rules here, a different set in Aus and then a half way house for International games. Its crazy and makes no sense at all.

  • Comment number 30.

    @28 Penboy -

    But those figures are only for Sky and not everyone is a Sky subscriber. Perhaps a minority? I don't know. The Wembley game for RL got 1.5 million viewers on the BBC on a Saturday afternoon. The Sky stat was 640,000.

  • Comment number 31.

    As much as I hate to say it, stevieeng34 has it bang on the money. Every time we, whether it be England or Great Britain, "seem" to be improving, the Aussies and the Kiwi's simply step up a gear and give us a good hiding, showing that in reality, we haven't made any ground on them at all. Let's be honest, NZ were poor in the group game - granted, it was a good win, but meant nothing come the final hooter on Saturday. Having been accustomed to seeing us fail gloriously since Sterling, Lewis and Co arrived on these shores in 1982, I can't see anything from this current England crop that suggests we will win ANY series against the Aussies any time soon.

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't think reducing the number of Super league teams is the answer, but maybe bring back relegation/promotion so there are more meaningful games at the end of the season. The main emphasis should be on the coaching, producing more players like Tomkins who are more inventive and don't have their flair coached out of them, especially in key positions of 1,6,7 and 9.

  • Comment number 33.

    There is one glaring similarity between the highest levels of foot ball and rugby league........our best teams are jam packed full of talent that has been developed outside of the UK. I'm not sure if this point has been made in this string but, in terms of footie, take a look at Spanish, Italian and German league teams and see how many foreigners form their line ups. Are there some? Of course there are but the vast majority of players are native to those countries.
    In RL over the years we have suffered from a huge influx of Australian/NZ players coming here to make a few quid off their name. Often toward the end of their careers they take up spots that could and should be filled by young British talent. Narrowing the pool of the players has to have an impact on how many might develop into world class players. This isn't just at the highest level either - the lower level teams also find themselves filling spots with lower grade Aussie/NZ/Samoan etc players.

    I've yet to hear an arguement, be it from my sport loving peers or the leaders of either sport, that convinces me this is not a valid point. At least 25 years+ ago we were competitive!

  • Comment number 34.

    Penboy, there is clearly enough people to have 2 big RL domestic competitions, international competition, and be 4th on the BBCs list of sports.

    Are you do insecure that you need to vicariously align yourself with 'the biggest and the best' and belittle those who dare to think a little differently?

  • Comment number 35.

    NZ have come a long way as an international side since they got a team into the NRL.

    Perhaps we should consider applying to set up a team in Adelaide or Perth to act as a development platform for GB players. Having a core team consistently playing at a higher level would make us more competitive.

  • Comment number 36.

    Jonousa

    Stating the obvious a little aren't you? SLs dependence on overseas talent is well know, but is being addressed, firstly by awarding SL liscencing points for developing young talent, and then last weeks announcement by the RFL that for every player that is called into the England or Knights squad, they will pay both the club that produced them and the club that produced them, £100k, and that sum won't come into the salary cap calculation.

    The latter piece of info for me is a massive boost for English RL. It will mean that clubs can sign an Aussie instead of a player anywhere near the England squad and lose out on 100k. Big money in RL terms. It will also mean, in a market where transfer fees have virtually died, that producing English players will be very valuable to clubs again even of they sell them. Should also mean we can afford to ward of the advances of RU clubs in all but the most lucrative moves.

    It's a brilliant move. Didn't make the news on the BBC RL site strangely

  • Comment number 37.

    This tournament has also shown we are also looking outside Super League to the NRL to produce or develop England players, the idea of England players only being produced by Super League clubs is outdated. Reed and Widdop are two good players from the NRL, also younger players have moved to the NRL. Maybe more can be found from the NRL who qualify and are willing to play for England, and this can narrow the gap between us and the Aussies, along with the other measures mentioned in #36.

  • Comment number 38.

    Jonousa, good point but my concern is I wonder whether we have a sufficient supply of quality home grown talent to make up for the gaps a ban on Aus/NZ players in the Superleague would create.

    After Saturday's tediously and regrettably inevitable result, I have two thoughts. First, I don't think our current team could have played with any more courage, bravery and workmanlike honesty than they did. Second, it is no fault of theirs, but they simply aren't good enough.

    Why? Because RL is an 'ethnic', not a national sport in the UK. It comes third or fourth behind football, cricket, and kick and clap. And it is geographically concentrated in the north. And I suspect, with respect to Whiteside, that to send our best players to man an English team in Australia would have a disastrous rugby brain-draining effect on an already limited pool of talent back home.

    Has anyone done the stats (George?) on how many play the game here and in Aus/ NZ at ALL age group levels? Their success, I suspect, is based on strength in depth, built on years of competition from the moment their children can run with a ball. How many nine year olds outside the north have a clue what rugby league is? How many nine year olds in the north (apart from the real die-hard or cash rich areas like Wigan or Leeds) have the kind of resources and opportunities (and I don't mean to downplay the huge and commendable voluntary efforts many make in their local communities to this end) to play that their antipodean equivalents enjoy? I fear the insurmountable difference between us and them right now is structural. These big test games are already lost in terms of relative development, largely in ball handling skills and the intuitive reading of a game, by the age of twelve. Our test players are EXCEPTIONALLY brilliant readers of the game, theirs are routinely so, and each position could be filled by at least two equally ROUTINELY brilliant others waiting in the wings. No amount of gutsy performances, to quote Peacock, can make up that difference, and I admire his characteristic bravery and honesty for slipping momentarily from 'the script' when he exaperatedly admitted that we can't keep saying we are getting closer when we keep losing.

    What is the solution? I admire the development initiatives that people like Lenaghan put into London, and may be they will bear fruit eventually (McCarthy Scarsbrook, Darryl Griffin, already have etc.), but the overall feeling is that we are a relatively impoverished, minority sport living off sc

  • Comment number 39.

    scraps ... and I'm afraid there's very little we can do about it, unless we find a way of banning kick and clap, sequestering all RU resources in the UK, and liberating all those poor RU fans from their mental bondage by leading them to the promised land.

    But even I must admit that no amount of predictable cheap shots at kick and clap are scant consolation for what happened - again - on Saturday.

  • Comment number 40.

    Whats the difference between this and the world cup? I mean really....whats the difference?

  • Comment number 41.

    Penboy.

    Don't wish to get involved in a rant with you but a premier league football match on Sky doesn't get much more than 1 million (maybe less if it's Wolves v Swansea or some other game that has no interest outside these areas) so the Sky figures are not really an accurate barometer of overall interest. (By the way, Eng v France 2007 RWC semi final got viewing figures of about 17 million, so hardly a tiny minority of support)
    I like RU and RL and although RL has the better product at club level in my opinion (with the possible exception of some Heineken Cup games which are magnificent) it's lack of international credibility means it is always going to be the bridesmaid of the 4 major team sports in this country. More kids playing is essential for growth (and ultimately national team success) but achieving this is easier said than done with so much competition - sporting and otherwise - for children's leisure time.
    Sorry to be pessimitic as I was really hoping Saturday would be the final nail in the Aussie sporting coffin which has takena serious battering in recent times!

  • Comment number 42.

    People winging saying it's the same as it has been for 40 years...It's not.

    Jack Reed is only 23, this season was his rookie season he will get a lot better.

    Gaz Widdop is only 22, he will be a different player at the world cup after another 2 seasons playing alongside Cronk, Slater and Smith.

    Tomkins is still only 22, Briscoe is 21, Hall is 23...Shenton will come back into the squad, he's only 25, Chase is only 25 if we stick with him.

    Our biggest problem has been producing quality backs but we now have 1-7 and none of them are over 25, there is plenty of hope for the world cup.

    The crowds have been great, the 4 England games had 110,342, the 3 Australia game and the NZ game had 99965. The noise on Saturday was incredible in the first half.

    This has been a brilliant tournament for English Rugby League, hopefully we can get a game over here Vs NZ or Aus next year so we can continue the improvement of the squad and the crowds.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dear Penboy,
    I went to the RU WC and watched the England RU team several times. The England RL would give them a pasting. Why do you think England RU are hunting the Tomkins brothers and I bet there are a number of others that RU would love to have.

    As for TV viewer ratings have you though of including the viewers across Europe that watched the 4 Nations, the viewers in Australia and New Zealand. Also check out the USA ratings. Those ratings are very interesting. (Oh I work in the TV industry). Penboy after the success of the 4 nations I have a funny feeling that many Saracens players may be considering playing RL not the other way around. RU is great game to play but it is the worst game, by a long way, to watch.

  • Comment number 44.

    England lose again to Australia and people talk about yet more false hope from the RFL. Im sorry did i imagine 40,000 people attending at Wembley with Saturday afternoon coverage on BBC1. Followed by a sell out at the KC Stadium and another sell out at Elland Rd. I actually think as a tournament this has been well thought out and planned by the rfl especially the ground selection and would say the only really dissappointing attendance was Wales vs Australia.
    Yes England fall short in terms of class and big game temperament when we play Australia, it maybe due to the fact that in oz it is considered their top sport in NSW and Queensland. There production line of young talent is almost endless and they have plenty more young bucks coming up through the ranks Hopate, Dugan, Cherry-Evans, etc etc. But realistically how often do England football compete at World Cups, Euros?? The English RFU has the most resources of any rugby union country and how often do they beat the all blacks. Why are they again trying to tap up the best in up and coming young league players tomkins (j), eastmond, ashton, tomkins (Sam) who is set to walk into the Barbarians team without to my knowledge having ever even played the game at amateur level!! (Rant about union and other sports over).
    What we need to be looking at is Saints successful academy tour of Australia, Englands recent successes against the aussie schoolboys, Leeds' backline for next year. The next question is why can these promising players not make it to the top level? Why do they not reach there true potential? Personnally i believe many players make it at Super League level and lose the competitive edge to become world class players as they feel theyve already made it. I have lost count of the amount of times i have seen RL professionals boozing to excess, smoking and generally acting unatheletic. I agree with the one of the posters above that suggested really pushing the sport science aspect so we do not just catch up to aussie standards but surpass them. Get young players who are selected from u16, u18s england camps to train alongside similar aged olympic hopefuls to let them see how much extra training and sacrifices are required to make it to the very top.
    Another aspect I would look at is why are so many great ex players lost to coaching in this country? Should the rfl look to be encouraging players coming to the end of their career to complete their coaching badges so that the sculthorpes, martyns, newloves, connollys dont just end up in the wilderness or going to other codes to earn a living.
    Overall yes england lost again but this 4nations tournament has led to good coverage of rl on bbc, sky and some features in the papers. We have showcased and unearthed some bright young talents and there are plenty more performing at super league level. Lets get more schools playing the game, more people qualified to coach to a higher standard and more academy products in the key starting positions and we could challenge at world cup 2013. But it does require better coaching, developing of core skills, better conditioning and a settled England camp that has a clear goal to establish a winning mentality so they dont continue to fall short.

  • Comment number 45.

    George, first of all really enjoyed the radio and TV coverage on BBC; at least it proves the importance of the international game to RL. Agree with much of what has been said above (apart from Penboy). It was also a well organised tournament and great for our sport. Some random points, maybe I should change my ID to "scratched record":

    First of all, the high tackles have to be sorted out. I am not saying for one minute Australia would not have won the final, but 10 minutes or a red card for Thurston would have made a big difference. Brilliant player, but he knew full well what he was doing. On report is a total cop out and is letting players getting away with deliberate foul play; the powers that be must sort this out before someone is stretchered off.

    Agree that the biggest obstacle is player confidence. NZ under-performed this year but I bet they always feel they have a chance v Australia with Benji in the side. Ian Millward got it spot on by saying the biggest difference is the ability to cope under high pressure. State of Origin not only helps develop the top Australian players, it provides Lockyer, Thurston, Smith and Slater 3 intense matches to build partnerships in the key positions; 1, 6, 7 and 9. Add another 1-2 Anzac tests plus the NRL all-stars match and thats 5-6 extra high pressure matches a year. Not only are these players supremely talented, they can back their ability under pressure. Sam Tomkins and Co get a Grand Final and Challenge Cup at best, but are more used to running in hat tricks against Wakefield and London. Until RFL factor in something similar for our players (including Welsh and French) we will not perform when it matters.

    Since the Kiwis cannot take part in SOO, my preferred option is to organise a 2 or 3 test series v NZ at the same time. This could be done by simplifying the play-offs to simple knock out and maybe dropping Magic Weekend. Of course, this will never happen but the RFL have to give this serious attention. SL is a great to watch but just not intense enough.

    To avoid 4 Nations having a side that gets thrashed each tournament, how about a 6N so we can see matches like France v PNG with something to play for other than avoid a 'nilling' - but host this every two years.

    This means we can bring back GB every other year for a 3 test tour plus midweek matches just like the good old days.

    Finally, more people both here and in NZ are playing the game than ever before. This is real expansion and the foundation to being competitive. The way I see it, with the RU ban removed we have had 15 years to get our game on a good footing. Youth programs are working well; it will take time but one day, maybe, just maybe I can dust off that bottle of claret and drink to an English / GB victory!

    Cheers

  • Comment number 46.

    Keep the faith boys !!

    We'll do it one day - just hope I'm alive, glad I've got kids to pass the challenge on to!! Lets face it, the Aussies set a very, very, very high standard, like no other in sport - in any sport. We've done well when we get clsoe - we should be proud of that.

    It could be worse you could be watching RU...I watched Sarries last Saturday nil nil after fifty and the only bloke who did any running was the water carrier. Ignore the RU trolls - or ask them if they're proud of their past 'whites only' policy, or if they're proud of their Vichy collab in 1940. All swept under the carpet, without apology.

    We are men apart we are Treizest !!

    See u next year... I'm following Norway RL from now on...right time a last pie.

  • Comment number 47.

    The state of origin will never include gb or nz. What are you talking about?
    Until the super league can improve the international game won't be improving for England.
    Tomkins was rubbish and against the best his game showed he needs some time to improve in areas. I agree England needs to play the best more often to learn the game at a higher intensity/pace
    Australia are just too good

  • Comment number 48.

    @Not_so_GB:

    Who said SOO should include NZ or GB? I didn't. What I did say is that at the same time SOO is on, NZ should play England / GB. After all the Kiwis are effectively on a 3 week break.

    Neither team should ever be included in State of Origin! If you can point out anyone else above saying they should - you can call them (or me) nuts. Of course my idea means a mid season break, so it will never happen; but then we all end up scratching our heads as to how we ever get closer to Australia. Exiles match is a good idea but will never replicate intensity of SOO.

  • Comment number 49.

    GB tour of NZ to coincide with SOO would be great, but it's a big ask from all. I think The Exiles concept could be huge. What if that was developed into a mid-season three-match series to mirror SOO? The intensity and spectacle could be massive, provided the profile of Exile player was such that they too saw it as an opportunity to stake a claim for their respective national teams. And if the numbers of foreigners in SL are to be gradually lowered, then one assumes that the quality of Exile-illegible players would increase.

  • Comment number 50.

    First I'll nail my green and gold colours to the mast for all to see.

    Let me say that England were not bad. I rate England highly and fully expected them to pump the Kiwis, which they did. I also expected a torrid final with the Kangaroos prevailing and I don't think that England were disgraced. Had England played to their potential and Australia had one of their rare off days (like the recent NZ finals) The result could have been very different.

    England has some real talent there to build on - Hall, Tomkins, Briers and a tough forward pack. I thought that the halves were a class below - but next to Thurston and Lockyer everyone is. You also can't underestimate how important Smith is at number 9. Let's face it - NSW can't beat the QLD 1,6,7 & 9 combination either, but it won't always be that way.

    Overall I think that there is plenty of cause for optimism for what is still a youthful England team. We need to get back to regular 3 test series so that England have regular exposure to the State of Origin type standard that NSW and QLD play every year. These two states hate each other and rip in. Losing origin to the other state is an embarrassment that no player wants.

    I am ignorant of UK development, but getting RL played in schools is an absolute must. You have to get kids growing up playing and loving the game from a young age. That is where you groom your future talent.

    Finally, I have to say that I am so happy that there are still so many passionate RL supporters in England (even if a little glum). It seems that our game is despised by outsiders and always under threat, getting knocked down and struggling back up again. The RU (remember what happened under Vichy in France?) and FA seem to delight in putting our game down. Here in Australia it is the cashed up AFL which is aggressively trying to break RL in NSW and QLD. But we are like cockroaches - we keep surviving.

    The northern counties along with NSW and QLD are the great bastions of RL. Long live the greatest game of all!

  • Comment number 51.

    In contrast to some opinions I thought England were generally impressive and should take heart from these performances into the World Cup. I agree that Widdop was underused and should feature more regularly in future.

    It has been mentioned that there are few internationals organised for next year - why don't we set aside three weekends and host our own 'State of Origin' using England vs The Exiles where the winner is the best of three? I know it is not the same as facing the Aussies or the Kiwis but unless we devise a whole new tournament between the three teams this seems like the best option!

  • Comment number 52.

    In England you seem to be wrestling with the "problem" of too many Aussies and Kiwis in the SL diluting England talent and taking positions. Here in Australia there is a parallel concern at junior level with Pacific Islander kids. The issue is that they are physically big kids and the smaller Anglo/Celtic kids are getting pasted. Parents, fearful for their kids safety, then pull them out of RL and enroll them in other sports instead (AFL or soccer). Many talented but smaller kids are then lost to rugby league way too early - often before they have had the chance to really learn and craft their skills. I have heard that in some junior districts, Polynesian kids now make up as much as half of all junior teams. This is also now reflected at senior level with every NRL team having Pacific Islander players heavily represented on their playing rosters.

    The obvious answer to the issue at junior level would seem to be age/weight divisions similar to that which I played at school as a youngster - at least until say 16 years of age when the gap in physical development closes somewhat.

    Pacific Islander people are physically large and intimidating - perfect physiques for the rugby codes. They are also increasingly providing players to both the Kangaroos and Wallabies as well as the Kiwis and All Blacks. Just look at the likes of Tony Williams, Petero Civoneceva, Akuila Uate - they are physically imposing, strong, fast and skillful. Exactly what you want in a rugby league player.

    Don't get me wrong - this is not a racist rant. It is just making the point that Pacific Islanders are becoming a dominant force in rugby league. It is also worth stating the obvious that Australia and New Zealand are more heavily represented by Polynesian players than England - and they are hard to handle.

  • Comment number 53.

    Well we all fall into the trap yet again of thinking England were going to win. This only served to put presssure on our boys and motivate the Aussies. It was the great Darren Lockyer's last game so any talk of England winning was all the motivation they needed. They really were up for this Final and predictablely, England buckled under the hype and pressure.

    League is Australia's national sport and they have far greater playing resources than us. New Zealand are also reaping the benefits to such an extent that they are now capable of beating the Aussies. But it's totally unrealistic to think that we can compete with the might of Australia. They are constantly going from strength to strength while we are always a few lengths behind battling bravely but never quite getting there. We've run them close a few times and had some wonderful but rare victories over the last 15-25 years but suffered so many heartbreaking defeats.

    In comparison, professional rugby league in this country is a regional sport, primarily confined to the M62 corridor. Despite this we still manage to produce exceptional athletes from a very limited pool of players. It's incredible when you think about it. But until we can match the playing resources of Australia, we have to keep our feet on the ground and develop our own game and style of play.

    The final word has to go old Darren Lockyer. What an inspiration to us all in every respect. Thank god he's retired. We'll beat the Aussies easily now, eh?

    Yeah, whatever.

  • Comment number 54.

    Congratulations to the Kangaroos. England, unfortunately, will never win 'til they can play a yard quicker and start getting the ball away faster at the play the ball. Can't fault the effort though.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's ok all of us armchair critics whining on that we need more competitive games, or that the GB team should be reconstituted, or that this or that player needs replacing/moved/a kick up the... (delete as appropriate), but it's the response to the defeat from the powers that be that worry me:

    McN: "The players were pretty content at half-time"...."We’d prepared really well throughout the whole tournament, throughout the whole year"

    The word "complacent" along with "broadly clueless" come to mind.

    Add this to the deafening silence from the RFL as to what to do to prepare for 2013 - the Aussies don't want us down there next year, an Exiles game in the middle of the season: big deal - what's the betting they schedule it on the same weekend as the olympics opening?, Wales' amateurs shouting they want more money to play (regardless of the fact that I agree with Briers on that) & nobody from Scotland or NI even poking their head above the parapet.

    It took Woodward 8 years to bang heads together long enough & hard enough for their 2003 win, I can't see any long term competitive vision from the RFL or the England camp that goes anywhere near convincing anyone not wearing heavily rose-tinted lenses that the next world cup won't be as much of a debacle as the last one (oh, and I though they were going to concentrate fixtures along the M62 corridor? Since when has Bristol been a League heartland?).

    SL is a fantastic competition, but there doesn't seem to be anyone looking at the bigger picture - Sky's wonga keeps turning their heads.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have just read the comments posted recently and all thats happened is critisism of other sports thinking league is superior to everything else,when are you all going to realise it is just an offshoot sport of the TRUE code of rugby that is union,it is mainly played in two counties in the north of england and has been for a hundred years.

  • Comment number 57.

    @56 After a few weeks our first troll. A bit odd to post such a comment on a League forum. By all means criticise our sport as much as you like on Union forums but an honest question, why bother on this one? Does it boost your fragile confidence?

    From my part of the South coast, football is king; let me assure you almost nobody cares a fig for TRUE rugby. I love football but if someone here does not, I don't cry about it. I also like a bit of Union, I just think League is better. Is that TRUE enough for you??

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry dirtygumshield have i touched a nerve,does the TRUTH hurt,From my part i am from the north of england and watch all sport,including rugby league(on the tv as well as live)but i dont go round blaming other sports for the games downfalls.Maybe its just my fragile confidence and living under a bridge for so long that i cant see the TRUTH.

  • Comment number 59.

    @56 Union troll, your game is archaic and obsolete, as is your opinion. Keep it among the toffy tarts. We don't want to read it.

  • Comment number 60.

    @55 Cyberpieman - spot on!

    I felt an urge to bash heads when I read McNamara's bland statement about us improving. Who does he think he is fooling? And the RFL's silence on the matter is equally alarming but then again, rugby league does suffer as a result of the limitations of the RFL. They are great administrators but visionaries they aint, and I just can't see a solution rising from the RFL until there is a change of leadership there.

    It's all rather discouraging, alas.

  • Comment number 61.

    do you no what obselete means robin???????

  • Comment number 62.

    @ 53 - sputnique. That is such a cop out!

    England isn't that far behind. Sure Australia has dominated for a long time, but it won't go on forever. Until the 1980's Australia struggled to win a series for decades.

    As for your assertion that RL is the national sport in Australia - I wish. Rugby League is basically played in only 2 states - NSW and Qld with a combined population of only about 11 million, and in those states it is centred on just two major cities - Sydney and Brisbane plus a handful of much smaller cities. Elsewhere - in VIC, SA, WA & TAS, AFL is by far and away the dominant code and RL is hardly played at all. Even in NSW and QLD, the cashed up AFL is aggressively trying to cut into RL's heartland of Sydney and Brisbane, with some success. RL also has to compete with RU and the increasingly popular FA.

    Not by any stretch could RL be described as "Australia's national sport". Cricket is the only sport in Australia that can justifiably claim that status.

    Englands Rugby League heartland of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria would have a combined population not that much less than that of NSW and QLD combined and you have one less code of football to contend with.

    @ 56 - Juggernaut. If you are so convinced that there is just one "TRUE" code of rugby then why do you even bother visiting RL forums, much less commenting? Why do you feel so threatened by the mere existence of RL? You should get a life. If RU turned professional a century earlier rather than pandering to the toffs, RL might not even exist today. Thank God it does, because I couldn't imagine wasting precious hours of my life watching attack and defence standing up in each others faces as the ball disappears for long periods beneath a mass of bodies only to be followed by scrums interminably set, then reset until finally a penalty is awarded and 3 points is kicked to the "jubiliation" of the weary spectators. Watching RU is like watching grass grow only more frustrating. Do us all a favour and leave us deluded RL followers to our ignorance. You can snigger at us in private.

  • Comment number 63.

    Indeed I may have misinterpreted what you were suggesting on the SOS idea. It's pretty clear England need vast improvements in the game but where do you start? It begins with the domestic competition.

    Comments made by some about the PI influence is a little far-fetched. If you singled out the truly star players in the Australian team they are home grown. The PI influence is very slight and tactically they are used in positions as a battering ram or Thaiday. The magicians are players past and present like Lockyer, johns etc which comes from the NRL playing pool

  • Comment number 64.

    I think England fans should have faith that sport in Britain become more competitive and yield a stronger national side and hope for 2013 World Cup

  • Comment number 65.

    @ Novo - we may have one less football code to contend with but both of those that we do contend with are bigger than rugby league, especially soccer which is promoted and followed to the point of obsession in England.

  • Comment number 66.

    @61 - Union troll: yes, of course I know what obsolete means. In this context it means "of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date", as evidenced by the fact that your sport adheres to archaic rules and practices that were deemed obsolete and dropped from our sport over a century ago - in the name of progress and broader appeal.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ Novo & HKRB, I wouldn't waste your breath. Juggernut will only "touch your nerve", or beat you up with some serious CAPITAL letters - we wouldn't want that would we? I wonder if he was one the 'experts' who gave Ben Dirs a badgering for having the temerity to criticise the poor English displays in NZ. In the end, Ben called it right. Oops, may have touched a nerve there.

    @cyberpieman - I agree with a lot of what you say but it's been a good season all round, so I will reserve my pessimism for 2012.

    On a lighter note, looking forward to the odd trip up to see the Broncos. I wonder what song / chant the club can use? I like Riders on the Storm, but how does one replace the line "There's a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad"? All equine song suggestions welcome!

    Cheers

  • Comment number 68.

    @67. what about "horsey, horsey don't you stop. Just let your props go bashing not flop; your wings go swish and your halves go round, giddy up we're Wembley-bound." ?

  • Comment number 69.

    have been following rl for almost 15 years now and admitedley did again(for the 50th time it seems like that now)believe that england/gb had a chance in a meanignfull game against australia. I wont give up and will still watch and believe that we can catch australia on a off day but memories such as the victory in aus a few years ago and the site of barry mcdermort battering through 4 australians in a gb win over here about 8years ago are few and far between

    but heres hoping eh

  • Comment number 70.

    p.s. was sam burgess injured this time round?

  • Comment number 71.

    Kaz - yes he was.

    I think Cyperpie is being a bit harsh on the RFL. The 4 Nations was a great success. Wembley was only half full, but I imagine the RFL were dipping their toe in the water i.e. if we spend X what do we get, so they can identify how much they would need to do to fill it at World Cup. Personally I'd like to see the World Cup kicked off at the Olympic stadium, as that will get the most attention.

    I think the RFL did a very good job of announcing the World Cup on the same day as the RU announced the 2015 RUWC, and continued to make WC announcements during the FAs attempts to get the footy world cup here - essentially piggy backing 'bigger' tournaments to keep the RLWC in the consciousness of the British sporting public.

    The tender process for the RL world cup should mean that the RFL are incurring less of the financial risks than they did when we last hosted the competition, and should result in fan zones, etc that have been such good TV at other big events

    When you add to that the announcement of 100k per player in England/ Knights squads going to their current an developing club, which won't add to the salary cap, and moving Magic back to the heartlands, I think the RFL are doing a good job at the moment.

    Re the lack of international fixtures next year, given NZs poor performance this year, I'm sure they'd be up for a test series next year, so surely something the RFL will look at. No point announcing anything before its agreed.

  • Comment number 72.

    You can add the Exiles to the RFLs recent achievements as well

  • Comment number 73.

    @71/2 : Agreed, broadly the 4 Nations & the last year as a whole have been a (qualified) success.

    It's just that (1) I have serious concerns about McN's binkered complacency & his inability to keep up with changes in the game - not just in SL but how the Antipodeans are running out & clobbering one another daily. The reason we see one team running riot one year & collapsing the next is because the coach hasn't moved when everyone else has (Nobby for example). Whereas (and I really hate to admit this) someone like Tony Smith seems to be almost chameleon-like in his ability to change & invent plays at will. Not a trait I've seen in McN yet - if anyone else has, please let me know.
    (2) the RFL's history on c**king things up. What twit scheduled the All Gold's centenary game on the same day as the Yawnion world cup final in 2007? Their preoccupation with licensing that seems to take up half the year to sort out. Their inability to recruit enough top-flight refs. Woeful marketing (at least outside Sky, which I haven't got). Pathetic squeaking when the government started the review of terrestrial channel sports coverage. By the time we get to 2013, they'll be back looking at licensing, how many players are going to get snaffled by the parasite agents working for Yawnion with not so much a peep from Red Hall between now & then?.

    I don't think I'm being harsh at all (quite measured for me, actually :-) )

 

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