A harsh, cold dose of reality.
The 2008 World Cup was supposed to be a turning point for English Rugby League. It was the competition where reality set it and expectations had been reset.
The catastrophic performance of the English side, which saw them barely beat Papua New Guinea, thrashed by Australia, and then easily cast aside by the eventual World Champion New Zealand side, not once, but twice, was supposed to be the moment where English Rugby League grew up.
Everything was to be reassessed. A few home truth’s, some honest self reflection, and no denying the fact that the scoreboard told the story.
England were not just off the pace, they were not even in the race to begin with.
As always with these things in the English game, time managed to fade harsh memories and stark reminders. So when the 2009 Four Nations rolled around, England were once again buoyant at what they might achieve.
Scorelines might have looked a bit better, and few cared that home field advantage once against helped in that sense, but when it came time to show what they were really capable of England once again found themselves being unmercifully thrashed, on home soil, in a final, once again by a touring Australian side.
Still, this result once again was not enough. For those English fans that were gutted with the ease Australia turned it on in the second half of last years Four Nations Final, for the complete despair and helplessness that followed every unstoppable Australian play, none of it seems to have sunk in.
“I’m really confident on our day we can beat the likes of Australia and New Zealand,” James Roby told BBC Radio Merseyside. “There is no reason why we can’t go down there and win the series. If you look around that changing room, every player will stand up and be counted.”
“From previous experience you can tell we’ve had a number of defeats to New Zealand and Australia and we just haven’t performed,” Roby continued.
“It’s a shame because I think we haven’t shown what we’re capable of as a team.
“Hopefully we can perform how we can and really take it to them.”
I’ve always been amazed at the incredible ignorance and self deception that must be needed from English players to make comments like this.
The suggestion that what happens in reality, what they do on the field, what the scoreboard reads after the game, doesn’t actually mean anything, its mind blowing!
That these players honestly believe that the devastating losses they keep racking up are not a real reflection of who they really are. They just need to show what they are capable of of course.
So when does that happen? What is the right occasion and what are they waiting for?
Its not just English players stuck in their little comfort zones in northern England either.
“Everyone asks about the difference between Australia and England and I’ve got a strong view on it,” Sam Burgess told reporters.
“England aren’t behind the Australians in any way in terms of the facilities and the science behind it. The competition is very tough in Australia but it’s very tough in England also.”
“They might have a few better beaches but I don’t feel we’re behind as a country, just on the scoreboard in recent years.”
Burgess went on…
“The only difference is a larger pool of players over there. It’s probably the number one sport and every kid at school wants to play rugby league, whereas over here we can also play soccer.”
“But we’ve a lot of exciting players coming through and, the more game time we get together as a squad, the better it is for the nation.”
Firstly, this soccer rubbish! For all the sports Australia participates in, we always manage to turn out amazing Rugby League players. Look at the English soccer team….they are not all that good. Can you point to the Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Brett Morris, Jarryd Hayne hyper athletes in the English soccer team that have been lost to English Rugby League?
Secondly, once again, England are not that far behind, just on the scoreboard, where it actually counts!
The last time England managed to beat Australia in a Rugby League series of any kind, neither James Roby or Sam Burgess had even been born!
The last time England could claim to be the best in the world was back in 1972, when they claimed their last World Cup victory. In fact the last two teams that could claim to have beaten Australia in a series have been New Zealand in the 2008 World Cup, and France back in 1978!
In looking back over the last couple of decades, and as pointed out by by our friend Agent Provocateur on his Rugby League blog, the idea that Great Britian/England are catching up to Australia is nothing more than a myth.
Between 1984 and 1995, the pre Super League are, England played Australia on 22 occasions, winning just five times in that span.
When Super League came in, between 1996 and 2009, England played Australia on 22 occasions once more, winning just four games in that period of time.
In every game that has mattered during that period of time, England have lost on every single occasion. There is no getting around that fact.
On top of that, Great Britain/Englands worst losses in their history, at home, and away, have both happened in the last decade at the hands of Australia.
So this fanciful idea that England just haven’t quite hit their stride, and they are building towards something special, is complete and utter rubbish!
English Rugby League types can keep trying to convince themselves otherwise all they like, but the scoreboard does not lie. The English game has been dying a slow painful death for years, all the signs are there.
The likes of Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis can talk about the quality of Super League all they like. There is a reason these two are playing the best football of their careers in Australia, where they are surrounded by star players and playing against the worlds best every single week.
If they feel the competitions are so even, lets send them back to play Wakefield, Salford, Hull KR and the like and be completely immersed in the complete dross that is most Super League games.
This year we have seen both Nathan Brown and Michael McGuire complain about the quality of Super League. Both have basically said that Super League is a completely different ball game to what is being played in Australia and New Zealand, the gulf in standard is that vast.
Even failed England coach Tony Smith has said as much, and people like him normally just tell England Rugby League types what they want to hear!
Until such time as English Rugby League is honest with itself about where it stands, nothing good will ever happen and the game in the UK will continue to rot away on a bed of it’s own inflated self importance.
The ego boosting has to end. I’ve said for a long time that the game in Great Britain is not pushed by sporting achievement, but ego. You see that in reactions to Test match results. It does nothing for the ego’s in the English game to accept they are so far behind the worlds best, so you just write the results off and keep telling yourself and anyone that wants to listen how good you really are.
New South Wales has lost the State Of Origin series for four years in a row, and it is at absolute crisis levels.
England has lost every series against Australia for 35 years, but they are not really that bad. Right?
No wonder English Rugby League is a joke to the rest of the world.
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
Aug 01, 2020 0