Week 2 begins.

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Well. I would love to know what odds the bookies were offering at the Welsh going out of the World Cup BEFORE the group stages were over. Someone, somewhere must have had a cheeky £10 on it. Certainly not my mate in North Wales, who can’t decide if he’s a Welsh Patriot or not. His quote was:

“To be honest I’d rather watch countryfile”

Not really saying much for the game in Wales going forward is it? This is a bloke who proudly fly’s the Welsh flag outside his home, and goes to every Welsh event he can find. That Semi Final against Australia looks very unlikely to be repeated if this tournament is anything to go by. Anyway, England turned up to play the Irish. For all of 50 minutes. The 2nd half was the dullest 40 minutes of Rugby League seen so far this world cup. Going forward, England seemed to have switched off and Ireland did their best to push for a score, but their heads went as soon as Ryan Hall scored his third. And how miserable is Steve McNamara? Accusing the BBC of making up stories in his post-match interview? What’s that all about? Is he trying to create a siege mentality in his camp? If so, all he seems to be doing is marginalising those sections of the press who want to see England win by being curt and off hand. OK, we now know that Zak has left the squad for personal reasons. I wish him well & hope to see him back playing next season. Whatever it is, lets give him the time and space he wants and needs to sort it out.

I’ll hold my hands up and say I never thought he was the right man for the job. He’s an RFL yes man and not a coach with a track record to be proud of. His coaching career while at Bradford contains several records that you really don’t want to highlight on a CV, such as being the first Bradford coach in Super League to fail to guide his team to the end of season play-offs and being in charge for the worst losing streak the club has seen in 20 years. And this is the man tasked with taking our pool of talent to a World Cup? Who should be doing the job? I really can’t say, but I think it’s time we looked for a coach with a track record of winning, no matter which hemisphere he comes from. Even if they took the job part time, they would still only get the squad together at odd times during the season, and (hopefully) for the 4 nations at the end of the year.

His stats?

You can see them here:

http://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/coaches/steve-mcnamara/summary.html

Not very inspiring is it?

Do I not love this?

Do I not love this?

It seems like the so called smaller teams are the ones really providing the excitement in this tournament. There has been no game outside of pools A & B that has not provided a great spectacle of the sport. Perhaps teams like Italy, France, USA, Scotland and Ireland should be playing their own tournament. What a great way to build a squad and increase the fan-base of the game in these so called emerging nations ahead of the next world cup. Just think, they could be played as double headers ahead of the 4 nation’s games. As Ireland boss Mark Aston said: “You just want the same. What you want is a consistent level of support, and I don’t think any of the home nations (apart from England) get the right sort of support. “We went into camp two weeks ago and we’ve had 10 or 12 sessions together. It makes it very tough. “It’s been thrown together and it’s been tough on the guys… but it doesn’t just happen, it takes time. “But we’ve started something and that’s the most important thing.” Please, don’t let this World Cup become just another forgotten event. The RFL really need to build on the momentum that is building. Tickets are like gold dust for most of the games that are left! Who would have predicted that Italy v Tonga in Halifax would draw a sell-out crowd on a November afternoon?

A lot of the thanks for this has to go to Sally Bolton and all her team at Media City, some of whom have been burning the midnight oil until the very early hours. The build-up may well have been slow, but it’s like a tidal wave crashing across the rugby league world now. Even as a sceptical old curmudgeon, I expected the worst & am really happy to say It’s been nothing short of brilliant.

The only gripe I’ve heard is the lack of TV coverage from the BBC. Only showing England games was a little short sighted of the corporation. The viewing on Premier Sports has been excellent, but needed a much bigger audience. Imagine if at last year’s Olympics the BBC had only shown Team GB and all other teams were on a PPV channel? There would have been an outcry, but we’ve again marginalised our sport by allowing this to happen. Imagine if the RFL had been able to stand there on December 1st and tell the world that not only was this tournament a virtual sell out, but had achieved viewing figures beyond their wildest dreams. Even if the BBC had simulcast via the red button or iPlayer the viewing figures would have been amazing. Given that it’s free to air in Australia, What put the BBC off from actually showing more than just England and then Tanya & Friends on a Sunday night? This is our NATIONAL BROADCASTER covering a World Cup in its own backyard:

“BBC Sport will broadcast live television and radio coverage of all of England’s group matches in the Rugby League World Cup, plus Wales’ match against Italy. A quarter-final, semi-final at Wembley on Saturday, 23 November and the final at Old Trafford on 30 November will also be broadcast live, plus there will be regular highlights shows”

Well thanks…Although what for, I’m not certain.

Given that (until Yesterday) there were the 3 home nations all playing, the chance to really give the sport a massive media presence has sadly passed us by. Unless of course the BBC don’t really care about Wales, Scotland?

The rather brilliant Tanya Arnold.

The rather brilliant Tanya Arnold.

 

 

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