Five lessons learned from the Rugby League World Cup

Well, the Rugby League World Cup is over for another . . . I don’t know how many years?
They seem to change the timing on a regular basis.
Have we learned anything from this year’s event?
Indeed we have.
  1. Australia are still the dominant nation. England did give the Roos a run for their money in the final and their supporters have every reason to be proud. Against a team containing Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – to name a few – not many people gave the Poms any hope of getting within the 18 headstart offered by most Bookies. The Poms scrambled well in defence, lead by Sam Burgess and James Graham. James Graham has passion in his veins. When a big defensive set was needed, Graham was always there. Gareth Widdop was excellent at fullback and created plenty of opportunities for his outside backs. The player that most impressed me for the English side for the whole tournament was Chris Hill. He is a real old-fashioned no nonsense front rower – and gives plenty of go forward.
  2. Josh Dugan can’t pass. Honestly, did he pass the ball at all in the final. Poor old Val Holmes had to resort to trying to the take an intercept to get the ball. That’s right, the Poms passed the ball to him more than Dugan did.
  3. The Kiwis are on life support. What can you say about New Zealand Rugby League? Seriously what can you say, because I’m lost for words. No wonder Jason Taumalolo wanted to play for Tonga.
  4. The rise of the Pacific nations. Tonga, Samoa and Fiji surprised plenty of fans with their enterprising style of play. If a few more of their boys can crack the NRL, things will only get better.
  5. That play the ball is dead. Not on life support like the Kiwis – dead. They don’t need the assisted-dying Bill from Victoria for the play the ball because it is DEAD. I would love to see referees award a couple of penalties early in a game and actually make the players use their foot to “play” the ball, but no referee in the World Cup or in the NRL is prepared to do that. Clearly, administrators don’t care or they would direct the referees to apply the rules. So why not do the decent thing and remove it from the rules. You might as well allow the players to lie on the ground and hand the ball to the dummy half.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!

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