A look back over the year that was

Martyn Sadler
Martyn Sadler

And so we come to the start of another year.
Inevitably it’s a time to look back over the year that was, and to consider whether it’s been a good or a bad one.

With the great success of the World Cup, and despite England’s heartbreaking defeat in the semi-final, we caught a glimpse of how good Rugby League can be, and how much the game could reach out to new spectators, with big crowds at the Millennium Stadium, Wembley and Old Trafford, and very respectable crowds at most of the other venues, with lots of people watching the game for the first time.

Who could forget the game between the USA and the Cook Islands, for example, played in front of 7,247 spectators at the Memorial Ground in Bristol?

And who could forget the performances of the USA and some of the other so-called minor nations in the World Cup?

They were the nations that gave the tournament its romance, and the realisation that this wasn’t just a tournament that belonged to the big three nations of Australia, New Zealand and England.

Admittedly there were a lot of players who were relying on their parents or grandparents to qualify for their chosen nation. But that didn’t detract from their commitment. In fact it emphasised it.

But where does the game go from here?

There are still many issues waiting to be resolved, including at Bradford Bulls and London Broncos, while the dispute between the RFL and some of its leading clubs is a challenge for all the parties.
Although we may have expected a knock-on effect from the World Cup, it seems that there are more bad-news stories than good-news ones.

Rugby League is facing many challenges as we head into 2014.
It is worth remembering, though, that at this time last year the future of Salford City Reds, as they then were, was looking very doubtful.

So things can change in a fairly short space of time.