Map Sports

Rugby League World Cup off to a flyer

The 2013 Rugby League World Cup is underway and whilst I am not on the ground in the UK, I must say it is a very different looking event from the last one held in the UK, 13 years ago. 

Whilst the games themselves have been a treat to watch I feel the measurement for success is the atmospheres at the grounds and having over flowing stadiums like Rochdale and Warrington adds some much needed credibility for the event.

The credit needs to be attributed two fold, firstly to the organising committees of the World Cup who set about the painstaking process of ballotting host cities for teams and creating a sense of community around an event that had lost nearly £750,000 last time it was held in the British Isles. The belief in the product to position it so strongly when it could have easily be deemed worthless is brilliant.

Secondly, the British supporters, who after generations of no World Cup success still a manage to put pride in country before their opinions on the team. They have been magnificent in their early support of fixtures and seeing 7,500 at France V PNG at Craven Park, was something unattainable at the 2000 RLWC due to poor planning and venue selection.

To put it into perspective, I represented Scotland in the 2000 RLWC and we were lucky to get 7,500 in total to our Tests against NZ Maoris, Samoa and Ireland.

Moving forward there is one group that needs to uphold their end of the bargain and it's the players. They can't continue to be satisfied with competing with Australia for 50 - 60 minutes, it's not good enough. Whilst too late now, they need to have a greater focus on physical gains through preseasons. You only have to look at the physical improvement of the Burgesses, Widdop and James Graham, now they have 20 weeks of uninterrupted preseason where they train 6 hours per day 6 days a week in 28-30 degree temperatures. 

Looking back into the mid to late 90's the Kiwis had the same problem where they could only stick with the Aussies for 60 mins tops. Since entering into the NRL in 1995 and the proliferation of NZ players into other NRL clubs and access to the training systems/programs you have seen them take major trophies away from the Aussies.

I am looking forward to the remainder of the tournament and truly hope the English can turn it around and challenge for the World Cup in 4 weeks time at Old Trafford.