Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was speaking at the unveiling of the findings of a report which claims the tournament’s social impact programme is responsible for more than £25million worth of positive change.
The World Cup begins in Newcastle on October 15 and the report said the tournament has helped turn an initial investment of £635,000 into £25.8m, having an impact on improving physical and mental illness, strengthening communities and boosting the local economy.
During the event, Dorries moved to hail rugby league, but appeared to mistake it for the union code instead when bizarrely reflecting on Jonny Wilkinson’s iconic drop goal for England in the 2003 World Cup final win over Australia.
“I’ve always liked the idea of rugby league,” she said.
“My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal. I’ll let you into a little secret: we were drinking Bloody Marys at the time, it was 11 o’clock in the morning but, wow, what a moment that was.”
She added: “I have heard that it’s - and I know from my limited watching, I’m not going to say I’m an expert who watches it all the time - that it’s increasingly physical and sometimes a brutal sport and it often ends up in a scrum, which actually reminds me of politics.
“I think we have a lot in common and given a lot of the media like to call me the prime minister’s attack dog, I wonder sometimes if I should give rugby a go.”
Like Jason Robinson I may have switched codes in my speech... Both league & union have a rich heritage in the UK. Obviously I've followed rugby league much less in my lifetime, but I'm looking forward to watching England (& all the home nations) in the RL World Cup this Autumn
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) June 30, 2022
Dorries responded to the gaffe, which prompted quick and widespread mocking across social media, with a reference to former England player Jason Robinson, who played both league and union, noting her limited exposure to the sport.