Nadine Dorries has said her rugby league gaffe at a World Cup event last week has helped boost attention for the sport.
The Culture Secretary was invited to sample rugby league first hand after confusing the 13-man game with the rival union code.
She stunned a rugby league audience in St Helens by referring to Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final in Sydney.
That prompted ridicule and criticism from rugby league fans.
Dorries joked “You are welcome” after telling MPs on Thursday that officials from the sport had informed her the game has “never had so much publicity”.
Making a statement on her departmental responsibilities in the Commons during departmental questions, Dorries said: “In the last few weeks, we have seen huge crowds at Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, Glastonbury, Silverstone and Wimbledon.
“The women’s Euros kicked off last night and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games are on their way. It’s set to be a great British summer of culture and sport.
“Speaking of sport, last week I was lucky enough to attend an event celebrating the upcoming Rugby League World Cup. I know the Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) is a huge fan of the sport.
“I know that, while I don’t share his detailed expertise, I know that he will be delighted that rugby league’s execs have told me, and Mr Speaker as well, I believe, that rugby league has never had so much publicity and so much attention for the game.
“And so, all I can say, Mr Speaker, is you are welcome.”
Lindsay Hoyle is a Warrington fan and often references rugby league in the Commons.
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