I MUST admit, the Rugby League World Cup wasn’t even close to being on my radar a month ago.
When the Panthers prevailed in the 2022 Grand Final and went back-to-back, International Rugby League in the Northern hemisphere didn’t quite tickle the ivories. But, now that it has begun, I can’t get enough of it!
The early ‘am’ start to matches takes me back to my younger days when I would be up at all hours watching the touring Kangaroos strutting their stuff. Loved it. And I’m loving more than ever the ‘minnows’ of world Rugby League in particular.
An early highlight has been watching the Jamaican rugby league team score their very first try in a world cup. And celebrating like they won the contest, not got beaten by 70 points. Fellow minnows Wales, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Scotland, and the Cook Islands might be minnows now, but it seems like only yesterday we were having the same conversation about PNG, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga!
International Rugby League was thought to only consist of three teams in Australia, NZ, and England. And while you’d think the eventual winner will come from one of those three nations, the only way the so-called lesser league nations can rise from where they are is to play against the powerhouses of the world and hope to inspire a new wave of footy players.
Not many league followers (if any at all) had heard the name Ben Jones-Bishop before the tournament had started. Now we know he was the player to score the island of Jamaica’s very first try in a Rugby League World Cup. Imagine if the West Indies got hold of this sport? Likewise with Fiji and PNG. The once Rugby League minnows are now producing player after player in both the NRL and the English Super League, with the likes of Kikau and Olam leading the way.
There are some Rugby League ‘purists’ who have called for the World Cup to be halved and only consist of 8 teams. These same people are filthy at Santa Claus around Christmas time for bringing too much happiness to people’s lives!
Every World Cup of every sport that has one has to have the nations that are no chance of winning it, but a big chance of changing a few lives along the way with their dedication and purpose shown for their given nations.
The minnows make world cups, and Rugby League is definitely no different! Prediction for the final? Australia to meet host nation England with Australia prevailing in a statement-filled display.
MG (random Westie) OAM