Emotional Craig Richards says semi-final loss was his last game as England boss

Craig Richards broke down as he revealed he will leave his role as England coach with immediate effect in the wake of his side’s 20-6 women’s Rugby League World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand.

Richards, who took on the position following the 2017 tournament in Australia, watched two swift tries at the start of the second half sink his side and send the Kiwi Ferns through to Saturday’s final against Australia.

“It will be someone else that takes the team forward and makes those decisions – it won’t be me,” revealed an emotional Richards.

“I will support from afar, working with my club to make those players the best that they can be so that I can put them forward for club and country.

“One thing that won’t leave me is the passion I have for this England team. I am a really passionate England coach and I am really, really desperate for success.”

During Richards’ reign his side have clearly closed the gap on the southern hemisphere giants, with the New Zealanders having triumphed 52-4 in their equivalent semi-final meeting in Sydney in 2017.

But for Richards that was scant consolation, having brought his squad into the tournament with the firm belief they were good enough to overcome their largely full-time opposition and win the tournament on home soil.

“When I got the job and someone sent over a video of the last World Cup, I thought, ‘Wow, what have I done?’ admitted Richards.

“One of my tasks was initially just to get close to them, but I’ll be honest, a year or two in and my attitude was, we’re not going to get close to them, we’re going to beat them.

“I thought we had a side to beat them and I thought we would do. Someone told me you’ve closed the gap really well, but it’s not good enough. I’ve not tried to close the gap, I’ve tried to win a World Cup.”