Better late then never huh?
So I didn’t want to comment on the “International Origin” game until I’d actually seen it.
If you were scanning Twitter during the match, you will have seen how much fun I had with the match. In fact I tweeted so much, I got blocked as they were a limit on how many Tweets you can do in a day. Fantastic!
So, once I was watching the game, a few things stood out for me…
First of all, the atmosphere was terrible. The crowd was silent until they collectively decided to boo Sam Tomkins every time he touched the ball.
Personally I have no problem with that. Unlike me, you’re people, not gorgeous, glorious robots. That means you don’t come with an on/off switch in your heads that means you boo a player you don’t like 30 odd games a season but you’re supposed to love him when he turns out for the test side.
Stuff that. If you don’t like a player, let it be known. These are big boys, they either do something to make you cheer for them (Something Tomkins didn’t do) or you cry like a bitch about it.
The whole idea behind the “International Origin” concept was to give England a high intensity match that would some how help them for when they play against Australia and New Zealand in the Four Nations at the end of every year.
If that was the goal of this match, it was a dismal failure.
The game lacked any sort of intensity at any time. The play was slow and did nothing to test the English side.
This basically should have been the worst nightmare for the RFL coming out of this contest. An old, disinterested lineup of so-so imports who didn’t really go out of their way to challenge the English lineup and test them in any way.
The terrible thing was, the Exiles side still won.
They showed that, in England, the sport of Rugby League which has been in existence since 1895, is at an all time low.
The English lineup looked unfit, in the middle of the season. They lacked any sort of attack, their attacking structure was terrible, there were players in their lineup that looked off the pace even for how slow the game was….there was nothing positive you could take out of the game for England.
The worst part was, playing at home, against a team who had nothing to play for, England grabbed the lead, and then were completely dominated and were not in the contest by the very end of the game.
The Exiles were not a good side, but you could see that when it was game on, their competitive instincts kicked in. Physically and skill wise, the Exiles players didn’t have what they used to have, but it was amazing to see the training these players had had over many years kick in and they just got the job done where England could not.
So with all that in mind, should this series go on?
I personally would say no.
It might be fun to have to kick off the year as a marketing exercise, but as a game that is supposed to help England improve, it is no good.
The biggest thing that will kill this game is the upcoming NRL TV rights deal that will not only see the stream of imports to England end, but will so any remaining imports in Super League return home.
The only players that will be heading to England to play in a few years from now will be the type that head to France or the United States to play. Basically players who aren’t quite at professional level in Australia and New Zealand, but who can head to another country, get a working visa and play a bit of footy on the side while they are there.
England needs more than just games to improve. In fact I’d suggest that the sheer number of games they play will have no impact what so ever on if England will improve.
I think the only way England will improve is if NRL clubs start scouting young England players in their mid teens, bring them over and put into our players development systems, and then have them basically grow up football wise in Australia’s system.
This is how New Zealand managed to become World Champions, and you only have to look at the massive difference between Gareth Widdop and any other English player in the game….its night and day in the difference in skill, fitness and professionalism.
So no, this concept should not go ahead from this point on.
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