Calls for England World Cup winners to be recognised at final

England PDRL World Cup winners Credit: Alamy
England PDRL World Cup winners Credit: Alamy

England may have fallen at the semi-final stage in the men’s and women’s tournaments, but they already have a trophy in the bag.

The PDRL side won the first ever PDRL World Cup a fortnight ago, defeating New Zealand 42-10 in the final.

But some feel that they have not got the recognition they deserve.

Player Nick Kennedy has called on World Cup organisers to invite them to the men and women’s final double header at Old Trafford on Saturday, to help promote PDRL.

He said: “The planning for this World Cup started before PDRL was off the ground in this country, so we get why our World Cup hasn’t been at the forefront.

“The fact the RLWC2021 managed to organise the competition is a huge testament to them, and we’re beyond grateful that they made it happen, especially with the BBC coverage of our game at this elite level.

“But now we need to capitalise on that win, to build a legacy for the sport, and get more disabled people involved in it.

“This sport completely changed my life. After losing my arm in a motor accident, my mental and physical health took a huge dip.

“But I went down to a training session with Castleford Tigers in 2018 and never looked back. It was actually the sister of one of my England team mates that originally recommended PDRL to me, so it’s come full circle as we lifted that cup together.”

Parade the trophy

The game has been backed on Twitter by Australian pundit and viral internet sensation, Andrew ‘Vossy’ Voss, who wants to see the PDRL team get “a piece of the Old Trafford stage on Saturday”.

“I see no reason why we can’t make that happen” says Voss. “Play highlights on a Big screen at the very least and parade the trophy”.

Fans were in disbelief that the World Cup winners hadn’t been invited to any of the three other final games.

“I thought this was supposed to be the ‘most inclusive World Cup ever’!?” questioned one rugby league fan. “The PDRL deserves more recognition for what was a fantastic tournament” was the response from another, with the sentiment echoed by many more.

The chance to shout about PDRL

“We’ve been asked repeatedly if we’ll be at the finals this weekend, but the truth is, we don’t know.” says Kennedy.

“The squad hasn’t been told about anything being organised so far, and it’s only a few days away. Winning a World Cup on home soil is a once in a lifetime opportunity… I really hope the RLWC2021 can turn something around, and give us the chance to shout about PDRL to rugby league fans old and new, tuning into the finals.”

It is believed that World Cup organisers are planning to reach out to the PDRL history makers.

England went up against Australia, New Zealand and Wales in the PDRL World Cup, the group stages of which were held at Victoria Park in Warrington.

After four games each in just eight days, the final was then played at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after the men’s game between France and Samoa.

More than 2,000 fans stayed behind to watch the game, which was also broadcast live by BBC.

World Cup ambassador and Channel 4 presenter Adam Hills played in the tournament for Australia, who finished fourth after losing the third place play-off against Wales.

England crowned first-ever winners of the PDRL World Cup

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