Jim from Oz Posted August 4, 2021 Share Posted August 4, 2021 (edited) The very first rugby league game I ever attended was a World Cup match, in 1975 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. https://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/matches/world-championship-series-1975/game-1/australia-vs-england.html I sat in the old Sheridan Stand, long since demolished, and watched as two proud teams of Australian and English gladiators walked out on the pitch resplendent in their magnificent national rugby league jumpers. I was in total awe. I was 11 years old. I have had a passion for international RL football ever since, just as we all on here have had our passions for rugby league. My spirits have soared and crashed to the ground over the years as I have watched the game go through its highs and lows, get torn apart during the idiotic Super League War, seen my beloved North Sydney Bears get totally shafted, and seen the huge rise of insularity in the NRL and their parallel denegration of international rugby league in favour of their completely overhyped and uninteresting State of Origin. Yet in 1995 I could watch a fantastic RL World Cup (with 10 teams!) on TV and thought, 'Wow, what about the incredible potential of international rugby league!" Then I witnessed a idiotic 2000 tournament, so badly organised and badly timed you could see a disaster coming from miles away. In 2008 things got better and in 2013 we had a brilliant World Cup, so in 2017 – the first ever RL World Cup that would actually follow four years after the previous one! – my hopes were high. A group of friends and I bought tickets – the most expensive tickets possible on the halfway line – to the RL World Cup final at Suncorp, we booked flights from Sydney to Brisbane and hired a house for the weekend, all of us confident that this was going to be an amazing event. Yet it was the culmination of a rather insipid World Cup, organised by the NRL in a rather haphazard, "Who cares?" manner, ending in a final that couldn’t even sell out. I was shockingly disappointed that there were 12,000 empty seats. But the rise of Tonga and the great performances by Papua New Guinea and Fiji, and a huge response from Pacific Island fans, led me to believe the RL World Cup finally had a REALLY big future. I planned to go to see the 2021 tournament in the north of England, I was all set to take long-service leave and some of the same mates who had come with me to attend the 2017 World Cup final were hopefully going to join me. Covid meant we could not come but I was excitedly looking forward to watching it on TV anyway. The idea of the World Cup in France in 2025 excites me even more, but of course there are serious doubts that will now happen. Why on earth would the French Government pour money into a tournament like this when the two biggest RL nations can torpedo it without any thought, give organisers four minutes' notice and not even consult the players? But this is what we have come to now in rugby league: the total wrecking of this incredible tournament – five years in the planning, with huge UK government backing – by incredibly shortsighted, idiotic NRL clubs and officials, and by the ARLC and the NZRL and its major figures. We all know the covid excuse is an absolute fig leaf; the NRL clubs have long wanted the RLWC torpedoed – for some unfathomable reason, they want to destroy international football – and now they have got their way. All the hopes and dreams of the organisers, the players – men, women and wheelchair – and the fans, all GONE. As such, I have zero confidence that the 2022 tournament will go ahead. If the clubs and the game's officials can torpedo it this year for no reason whatsoever, why won’t they do the same next year? I suspect that over the next 15 months they will be doing their best to undermine a 2022 RLWC and ensure it does not go ahead. It stinks. The whole thing stinks. At the moment I just feel numb. Edited August 4, 2021 by Jim from Oz 20 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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