Drama in Sport

I remember saying to a friend of mine a few years ago that you couldn't beat International RL for drama in sport. I'm deliberately writing this in the middle of the competition and I still think this is true. We could do with some more variety and more unpredictability but for sheer entertainment, International RL is great
When, when, when will the English team perform to their true potential. Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis have been stars in NRL this year and there are plenty more like them. Graham, Roby, Westwood, Tomkins etc are great players in SL if they can just do themselves justice on an international stage. Greg Eastwood has been very ordinary all year in SL but he performed well when it counted. Australian administrators please note. I’ve just said that Greg Eastwood performed when it counted i.e. in an international match. They are the pinnacle of any sport and should be treated as such. Anybody who treats a club (or State of Origin) match as the main event is wrong, very wrong!!!

Obviously, NZ and Australia are the favourites so who decided the match itinerary? It was always likely that NZ & Australia might beat England and make the last weekend of matches irrelevant. The performance of the people in charge is inadequate

I watched the Australia v PNG match and enjoyed it immensely but where was the crowd? For an international match involving Australia to be played in Sydney (RL’s home city) in front of such a sparse crowd was embarrassing. Surely the ARL can promote International RL better than this. I hold Mr Carr and Mr Love responsible and their days must be numbered.

I was also embarrassed by the referee although it wasn’t really his fault. Every marginal call went to Australia resulting in a 12-2 penalty count in their favour. He was “neutral” because he was from NZ but Australia have been allowed to veto referee appointments for years and it’s obvious who wields the power. The young man knows which side his bread is buttered.

After watching neutral refs work in every other international match recently I’ve just found out that Tony Archer (an Australian) is the ref for Australia v England. So it's back to normal in that respect. When was the last time Australia played an important international match with a referee they didn’t choose? I can’t think of one. I could argue that Australian refs are not eligible to officiate in international matches anymore because they are used to working in pairs to a different set of rules.

It was good to see the successful  Alitalia European Cup being played before some good crowds. The French the were better team throughout the tournament but played badly in the final and lost to a committed Welsh team who now enter the Four Nations in 2011. It seems strange that in club competitions we have franchise systems were teams are judged on their overall strength but for the much more important international competitions we have a play-off where injuries, the weather, refereeing decisions and the bounce of the ball can make an impact. The French are much stronger both on and off the field than the Welsh and are improving rapidly. If they can get all their players on the pitch fit, fresh and motivated they can be very competitive.

Watch out for the Welsh though. They’ve got some great young players, a growing band of followers and are making good progress. I wish them well and will look forward to a double header at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, NZ v Australia and England v Wales. Lets hope the RFL can do a better job of promotion than their Australian counterparts


  1. Lets hope the RLEF continues to organise and expand international RL tournaments in Europe. I also hope a similar situation can develop in the Asia/Pacific region.

  2. All referees should be neutral, the appointment process should be transparent and overseen by an independent RLIF.

    The English could quibble about how the slight Kevin Brown couldn't avoid touching the huge Greg Eastwood who was going in the wrong direction and couldn't get to the ball anyway. However, there was a neutral referee and decisions have to be made

    Likewise Monsieur Goulding was unhappy about the last minute penalty that cost the French so much but again there was a neutral referee and there must always be winners and losers.

    Let's hope we can say the same thing when yet again an Australian referees an important match involving Australia

  3. Hefty sanctions should be enforced for any country or individual who tries to inerfere with referees

  4. This can easily be sorted out. Like with the continued eligibility fiasco the Australians like to muddy the referee appointment water and profit from the confusion

  5. It would be better if each nation could develop separately and bring their own distinctive flavour to international competition as used to be the case. Unfortunately Super League is full of Autralian coaches and European players are often clones of Australians.

    I look foward to the day when English/French players will revive their traditional skills, return to regarding RL as a handling game, stand deep and put a move on. Instead we see running from dummy half, flat passes and a continued physical confrontation.Obviously muscle must match muscle and this has always been part of the game but European players seem to have lost their ball playing skills. The French in particular are nowhere near as adept as they used to be.


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