It’s always the same old story with English Rugby League. The season always ends with renewed optimism for our boys. Every year we finish the regular season with star players such as Jamie Peacock, Paul Sculthorpe, Andy Farrell fresh from positive year-long performances. The list of players goes as far back as time itself, but yet I can’t remember a time where it could be said that we’ve realistically being able to match the men from down under.
Will we ever be as good as the Aussies? There have been many well-educated Rugby minds out there who have give us the go ahead and said we can do it, that we have the potential to finally beat them. So why haven’t we?
It’s worth pointing out that we can’t point the blame on a lack of English talent. Nor can we blame it on poor management. It’s been proven over the years that England has the ability and potential to shake up teams such as New Zealand and Australia. We just haven’t had that edge! We’ve always lacked the crucial composure that can ensure the victory of a major tournament. It’s safe to say that Australia are not lacking in composure. The green and gold’s always seem able to provide the goods, right when it matters most.
Is it because the Aussies are some kind of super human species that are invincible when it comes to getting one over from their rivals from across the globe? This of course is not the case, although it wouldn’t seem too crazy for people to put this thought into consideration.
We simply haven’t been good enough on the international scene and in order to try and make sense of this disheartening statement it’s wise to consider that Australia and New Zealand even both have set ups which allow them to flourish at the international stage.
Rugby League is embedded within their culture. When looking at international sport within England there is a clear focus on certain sports such as football and cricket. Although it could be said that these sports, football in particular have failed to perform in recent years, this is not due to a lack of funding and devoted time.
When looking at Rugby League it’s plain to see that it’s not the most financially wealthy sports in context to other English sports. Nor is it the sport with the greatest appeal.
If we were to study International Rugby League within Australia it is clear to see that there is a significant focus on sports such as Rugby League and Union. In relation to this there is evidence to suggest that there is more money, time and effort that goes into coaching, grass-roots and making their league’s as competitive as possible.
Many would be lead to believe that Rugby League is taken far more seriously down under however there is still evidence to suggest that our leagues are able to compete against theirs. This has been proven as teams such as Leeds and Saints have established world club challenge victories against Australia’s finest.
So maybe it’s not that were a bunch of enthusiasts that just play for the hell of it. Perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. Well if were to look specifically at the international setup in Australia it could be noted that they have more time to prepare for a major tournament at the end of the season. They also have more time to gel and get to know each other as a team. Their players have more time recover from let’s face it, what can be quite a strenuous season. Not to mention there is more mid-season time dedicated to prepare for international tournaments.
The question has to be asked are our boys really being given the time necessary in order for them to flourish as a team at the end of the year.
It’s plain to see that there is a new breed of talented youngsters who are now chasing the England dream. Many of these stars have already had the honour of wearing the Lions jersey, however again New Zealand proved too much to handle.
Many could argue that there were signs of potential amongst the squad and positive performances from players such as Sam Tomkins and Michael Shenton definitely suggested that.
England now go on to face the Aussies on their own turf this weekend in which many people are asking the question are we ready? Many more however may be asking the question, will we ever be ready?