“It means something” – Ian Watson calls for War of the Roses return

Ian Watson Huddersfield Credit: Alamy
Ian Watson Huddersfield Credit: Alamy

Huddersfield head coach Ian Watson has called for a return for the War of the Roses to help grow the sport of rugby league.

Aside from the inaugural Women’s War of the Roses in 2015, we haven’t seen the game take place since 2003. 

The history dates back to 1895, with Yorkshire claiming the victory in the first-ever clash with an 8-0 score in Oldham.

The fixture was revived in 2001 under the name of the County of Origin series, inspired by Australia’s State of Origin between Queensland and New South Wales.

However, falling attendances saw the fixture scrapped just two years later. 

Speaking on BBC following Wales’ final fixture of the World Cup, Huddersfield’s Watson made a play to bring back the series to help grow the sport, as well as focussing more on the international game. 

Ian Watson: We need to support the international game

“You look at rugby union, it’s grown through the international game,” Watson said.

“We need to support the international game and want to grow the international game.

“I know last year when we had the Exiles game, Huddersfield had about seven players involved in that game and they were all privileged to be playing at that level. 

“I think we miss a trick in the Lancashire versus Yorkshire that we used to have. 

“The possible probables for the international team, where you make it that State of Origin and it means something. 

“When you’re playing for something that means something, you get a lot more commitment. There’s a lot more motivation in there to make that a proper identity on its own.”

Calls for more international planning

Former players and current pundits Jon Wilkin and Danika Priim also expressed their desire in seeing more investment into rugby league live on the BBC.

“What are we doing next year? Those are the conversations that we’re having about international rugby,” Wilkin said.

“If we want to be taken seriously, we have to have structure and planning behind international fixtures. We need our clubs to really buy into it and invest in it and it not be an afterthought. Get Wales a plan, get them some fixtures, Ireland and Scotland too.”

Priim continued: “We talk about that four nations, five, six, whatever you want to call it. There are teams out there in the UK that can play and can compete against each other on an annual basis.”

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