Is the World Cup really over?
Can that really be it? Most of us never wanted it to end, especially as it did on Saturday with a heavily one-sided final. New Zealand didn’t do themselves justice and Australia’s excellence was unquestionable, showing just how cruel sport can be.
The game was a bit of a let-down for the 74,468 people who had flocked to Old Trafford expecting to see something in the vein of last weekend’s England-Kiwis semi-final. Professional sport can never be choreographed.
Our congratulations go to the Australian players and staff for a wonderful performance that we hope will be widely recognised by all their countrymen.
The 14th World Cup has gone, but it will be a long time, if ever, before it is forgotten by Rugby League supporters. Record crowds, bumper television audiences, new sponsors and thousands attracted to Rugby League for the first time. The tournament could hardly have delivered more and for that Tournament Director Nigel Wood and his team deserve great credit.
Wood has called for the whole sport to take the opportunity provided by the increased interest in the game. It will be interesting to see the results as the RFL and BARLA monitors participation rates over the coming months, particularly at junior level.
Significantly, Wood, also facing major problems in his role as chief executive at the RFL, with the Super League clubs yet to agree a way forward on the structure of the league, has also indicated the Rugby League International Federation is about to become a governing body able to capitalise on the success of the World Cup, with its own chief executive, staff and offices.
If there is one thing the World Cup has proved it is the ability of international sport to capture new audiences.
Almost a quarter of the 67,545 crowd at Wembley last week were attending their first live Rugby League match and 59 per cent of buyers came from London and the South East. And it seems obvious to us, after the extravaganza of the past five weeks, most people want to see more.
Scotland with Peter Wallace and Danny Brough playing Italy, with Anthony Minichiello in the European Championship, we could even stage that in Scotland; Fiji featuring Akuila Uate and Ashton Sims hosting Tonga with Willie Manu and Fuiui Moimoi et al in Suva?
Will the powers-that-be really grasp the nettle this time, or by March next year when the NRL and Super League are underway again, will RLWC 2013 just become a distant memory?
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