If you needed any evidence as to why British Rugby League is written off, ignored or laughed about by outsiders, the England vs Exiles “International Origin” match would be pretty much all you needed to see.
Played in front of a tiny, barely interested crowd, England managed to beat an Exiles team made up of imports playing in the Super League competition. It was not an achievement of any sort however. This was a pathetic excuse of a contest and only diehards at the RFL and the Sky commentary team have had anything even remotely positive to say about it.
The game itself lacked intensity. The Exiles ambled up in defense to the point where it looked like a training session in which everyone was trying to stay injury free for an actual game on the weekend. The sad part is that England barely managed to win the game with what has to be the worst lineup I have seen them run out in my life time.
The supposed reason for these games is to give England tougher contests than they would get against the likes of Wales, Scotland or Ireland. That isn’t too difficult when you consider that the RFL has a policy of using these teams as a feeder system into the English side.
England is supposedly too good to play France, just ask them. Apparently playing actual internationals against actual test playing nations is simply below the RFL….when it suits them anyway.
The idea that England needs to play more quality games to improve is simply wrong. For over a decade Great Britain and England have played Australia and New Zealand many times….and they just keep getting worse! How many games to do they? At what point will people realize that England lose games, not because they don’t play on a regular basis, but because they are not very good?
The psychotic obsession the RFL has with Australia has seen them implement this ridiculous International Origin series. They point to Australia’s State Of Origin series as they reason they can not beat Australia. At the same time they over look the fact that New Zealand has not got any other rep games outside of test matches they play, and yet the Kiwi’s are the World Champions, not Australia.
England could play Australia and New Zealand once a month, every month for the next year, and they wouldn’t have a hope in hell of winning the 2013 World Cup because their player base is not even at park football standard. Many players that ran out in the England side on the weekend would struggle in the NSW and QLD Cup.
England is so bad that they aren’t even a draw card in England any more. The posted crowd of 11,083 for this game was complete and utter bullshit. Keep in mind, this game was played in St Helens, in the supposed “Heartlands”. If no one cares in St Helens, how much are people supposed to care in say London?
Why is that an issue? Well, for a game that is so severely under funded, it would be nice to tap into one of the worlds great financial hubs, don’t you think?
For many years people have asked me what needs to happen for Great Britain, and then England to improve. I’ve had many ideas has to how you could make this happen, but at this point there is simply nothing you can do.
Rugby League in Great Britain has gone past a tipping point I don’t think it can recover from. The player base is simply awful. Clubs are not financially viable. Coaching is so bad that it actually does more harm than good. Crowds are terrible. Sponsors want nothing to do with the game. The only positive thing you could say is that TV ratings on Sky are not too bad, but that doesn’t matter when the broadcasting deal is minuscule and the competition naming rights sponsor was given away for free to a trucking company that in return would put a few stickers on a small percentage of their trucks!
I’ve said for a few years now that the England side will eventually be made of of players that come from the NRL. I’ve said that it will be up to the NRL to develop players on behalf of England and the RFL will need to rely on the stupid, non existent eligibility rules to put a team together.
Super League is heading towards becoming a semi professional competition, which means that any English player that wants to play Rugby League at a professional level will have to head to the NRL. They are far more likely to go and play Rugby Union in England, and don’t think the RFU hasn’t slowly positioned itself over the last few years to step into the void when Super League finally does fall over.
The International Origin fixture is the most obvious symptom of the dying British game. In the same week in which it was confirmed Bradford are likely to go into administration we see England playing a made up team of old Aussies and Kiwi’s in from of a tiny crowd in St Helens.
We will play out the rest of the current Super League season, which has been dreadful and then look towards a new year that will see more clubs will fall over. The 2013 World Cup will be played, and it will be a complete farce. Australia and New Zealand will meet in the final, and when the dust settles on the competition and the RFL haven’t got anything left to sell to the government, we are going to see Rugby League in Great Britain absolutely decimated by the RFU.
When that happens, who will the Exiles play then?
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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