Sunday, December 01, 2013

The party's over

And what a party it was. I was there as it wound up under a stunning sunset in front of 74,400 people on a cold Manchester afternoon.

One of the failings of Rugby League has always been the weakness of the international game, but this World Cup gave it a tremendous boost with record crowds. Although the stubborn problem still remains that one nation is a long way ahead of all others. Even worse, that nation is Australia.

That a powerful New Zealand side was so comprehensively beaten in the final is a sign that, though progress is being made there is still a long way to go to provide good international competition. There are only two national sides, England and New Zealand, that can compete with the Kangaroos, and even then they rarely win. And that does not make for compelling viewing.

But this year the crowds rolled up, the final was a sell-out and the only disappointment was the very limited coverage by the BBC. The lesser sides provided some thrilling matches and the New Zealand v England semi-final was a heart-breaking classic. It was a superb, celebratory festival for the game. Let's hope that this time it is a platform for serious long-term international development that the game needs and deserves.

Now for something completely naff:

No comments: