So now there are just four teams remaining in the World Cup.
The line-up for the Wembley semi-finals has been decided and there are no major shocks, with the line-up the same as in the last World Cup in 2008. A different pair of finalists would be fine by us, and we are sure that the England players will be giving their all on Saturday to make sure that happens.
It’s going to seem a bit empty now that ten of the nations who have lit up our increasingly gloomy autumn have played their last games. And the lingering question is: ‘Exactly what happens now?’
Will the fairy story that was the USA Tomahawks lead to Rugby League breaking through into the American sports market? Tomahawks coach Terry Matterson says he certainly hopes so, but after the USA’s defeat on Saturday, he, understandably, had no idea what happens next. He has done all that was asked of him and this week will return to his day job as an assistant coach in the NRL. Most of his players will be back down under too.
Scotland coach Steve McCormack has completed a remarkable World Cup campaign, for the second competition running. The euphoria of what the Scotland team had achieved was tangible, but because of cuts the Rugby Football League has been forced to make, just at the point where interest is highest, Scotland has now has no paid development staff. And though hope was expressed that the experienced players who have played such a big part in RLWC 2013 will be back next year in the European Championship, nothing is certain
Samoa’s fixture programme for next year? France? Their captain, Olivier Elima, could only offer a vague hope that one of the big nations will play in France at some stage next year.
The 2013 World Cup has created excitement and grabbed the attention of many new spectators over the past three weeks or so. If the powers-that-be on both sides of the globe don’t realise now that the international game is the vehicle to make Rugby League a bigger game, then they never will.
The way forward seems straightforward to us. Though the organisers may fall short of their early target of selling 500,000 tickets, the profits generated from this World Cup must be used to create a properly funded and staffed Rugby League International Federation.
As we all head to Wembley for the serious business this weekend, it’s time to take the international game seriously.
League Express Editorial, Mon 18th Nov 2013