Tonga RU

Tonga slideshow

England are in a World Cup final... and no one has noticed

England are in the World Cup final then. Which one? Rugby of course. The Rugby World Cup. They are, I assure you. Yes, you’re quite right to think that you should have heard about it by now. No, no, not the Rugby Union World Cup, that’s in Japan in 2019. This is the original Rugby World Cup, the Rugby League World Cup. England are playing Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Saturday and are hoping to get their hands on a trophy they have not won since 1972 (as Great Britain). It’s OK, nobody blames you for not knowing. It is not like there has been an explosion in all forms of media and communication in the interceding 45 years, or a vast commercialisation of all forms of sport and a concomitant redevelopment as a multibillion pound industry that touches the lives of people all round the globe. If that had been the case, there would surely be no reason for being ignorant of the fact that England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. Similarly, there would be no reason for Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to tweet after England’s nail-biting semi-final 20-18 win over Tonga last Saturday, ‘England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. I live in hope that, at some point this week, our media will inform the nation about this.’ It almost goes without saying that Rugby League is a much inferior sport to Rugby Union (an oxymoron right up there with Manchester United, Military Intelligence and, appropriately enough, ‘deafening silence’), or it would receive more attention – that’s how these things work isn’t it? Everything judged according to its merits with the due application of that most self-regarding of myths, the English sense of ‘fair play.’  Thought so. There’s only one thing for it – League has to become more like Union. Here are ten ways it can do that… i. First, and most importantly, improve the catering and corporate facilities. We’ll get to the changes in the actual game presently but this is absolutely vital. If there has to be some kind of sporting event going on the very least one can expect is smoked salmon blinis and quails’ eggs, wine that does not come out of a box and a comfortable seat, facing the pitch if necessary. ii. Once that is sorted we can move onto innovation. It’s got to go. What is the point of staging the first Rugby World Cup in 1954 when someone can simply come along thirty-three years later, after all the heavy-lifting has been done, and appropriate the name? See also, the introduction of floodlit matches on the BBC (1965) and video technology (1996 – five years before Union). iii. Clive Sullivan MBE may well have been the first black captain of any British sporting team – and a World Cup winner – but if we can’t even recognise these achievements with a knighthood what chances have we got? Somebody needs to have a word with the Palace. If squash and fencing can have a Dame each, surely they can spare a couple of Sirs for our league-playing boys. iv. This quick, open play nonsense has to be stopped. It’s all very well putting on a spectacle of athleticism and handling technique for the paying public and the audiences at home, but at school level when are the fat kids going to get a chance for a breather? v. Which brings us nicely on to lineouts. These need to be introduced to break up play as soon as possible. There is no finer sight in world sport than seeing a very tall man being thrust into the air by way of upward momentum on his buttocks provided by his teammates as he attempts to make contact with an oval ball. Lineouts would also provide ample time to check text messages and answer important work emails. vi. Scrums, of course, will have to be done properly from now on. Who needs an instantaneous attacking platform when valuable minutes, hours even, can be wasted watching scrums collapse and reset? We should actually go further here and, at international level, institute a five scrum rule that means if a minor infringement is worth punishing in the first place, it’s almost certainly worth punishing five times. Referees could be spared the task of guessing what has just gone on by the introduction of a tombola. This could obviously be sponsored, elegantly but extravagantly, to generate yet further revenue. vii. If that is not enough to slow the game down, let’s open it up to ponderous carbohydrate junkies at the schoolboy and amateur levels and build upon the almost sexual stop-start frisson that is the hallmark of Union. We can do this by throwing another four players on the pitch just to generally get in the way and over-complicate matters. viii. The current points system is obviously not fit for purpose. The kicking game is being woefully neglected; reverting to the old pre-1948 Union levels of four points for a drop goal might not even be sufficient. It will have to be 10 points from now on and renamed a ‘Jonny’. A working party can look at the possibility of introducing a life-size Subbuteo corner-taker figure to replace specialist players as this will free up training time to practise lineouts and scrums. ix. With the corporate hospitality and rules of the game sorted, we can now think about those who pay to watch the game. The obvious thing to do here is to leave the passionate, knowledgeable and loyal sporting heartland of Northern England and focus attention on thriving metropolitan areas like Leicester and Northampton or, more obviously, wherever there is a Range Rover dealership and a fondness for novelty socks. x. Finally, forget all ideas about naming the World Cup trophy after Paul Barrière, a World War II French resistance hero who came up with the idea of a rugby world cup in the first place and, instead, name it after an acknowledged cheat who couldn’t play football properly. And if all that lot doesn’t get us some media exposure, I don’t know what will. It already has? Oh. 

Tonga's Shunsuke Nunomaki is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan's player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, center, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, right, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi breaks through the challenge of Tonga's player during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Steve Mafi, right, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Michael Leitch, s tackled by Tonga 's Steve Mafi during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Michael Leitch, right, reacts after his team score a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Harunmichi Tatekawa, center, is tackled by Tonga 's Leva Fifita, below, during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Japan's Lomano Lava Lemeki, center, reacts with his teammates after scored a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Rugby Union - Fiji down Tonga to book World Cup berth

Lions' Sylvian Mahuza (L) runs from Rebels' Ben Volavola during the Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and Golden Lions at AAMI Park in Melbourne on May 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mal Fairclough)

Aled Davies of Wales makes a break during their rugby union Test match against Tonga, at Eden Park in Auckland, on June 16, 2017

Aled Davies of Wales makes a break during their rugby union Test match against Tonga, at Eden Park in Auckland, on June 16, 2017

Aled Davies of Wales makes a break during their rugby union Test match against Tonga, at Eden Park in Auckland, on June 16, 2017

Aled Davies of Wales makes a break during their rugby union Test match against Tonga, at Eden Park in Auckland, on June 16, 2017 (AFP Photo/MICHAEL BRADLEY)

Rugby Union - Tigers swoop for quartet including Tonga star

Tonga's flanker Sione Kalamafoni (C) jumps for the ball in a line out during a Pool C match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Tonga at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England, on October 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, NO USE IN LIVE MATCH TRACKING SERVICES, TO BE USED AS NON-SEQUENTIAL STILLSTonga's flanker Sione Kalamafoni (C) jumps for the ball in a line out during a Pool C match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Tonga at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England, on October 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, NO USE IN LIVE MATCH TRACKING SERVICES, TO BE USED AS NON-SEQUENTIAL STILLS (AFP Photo/GABRIEL BOUYS)

New Zealand v Tonga - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand v Tonga - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C - St James' Park, Newcastle, England - 9/10/15 New Zealand's Waisake Naholo warms up before the game Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith Livepic

Jamie Roberts (right) will captain the Wales rugby union team in Tonga and Samoa

RugbyU - RugbyU: Roberts to lead Wales against Tonga and Samoa

Wales' Jamie Roberts (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on March 10, 2017.Wales won the game 22-9. (AFP Photo/Geoff CADDICK)

Jamie Roberts (right) will captain the Wales rugby union team in Tonga and Samoa

Jamie Roberts (right) will captain the Wales rugby union team in Tonga and Samoa (AFP Photo/Geoff CADDICK)

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes