Posted by Dave on 26th November 2008

The trouble with England rugby league

england rugby league

So England had a rubbish tournament and were probably, actually no, they were the most dissapointing team of the world cup. Lucky to have been in the super group of pool A they managed to get to the semi finals having only won one game, narrowly, against Papau New Guinea.

So what to do to improve the English game, well every man and his dog has an opinion so why don’t we look at some of them.

Get rid of the foreigners
So our first argument comes courtesy of Ricky Stuart who says that too many imported players are killing super leagues natural development. In a way I often have issues with this kind of argument in that to be the best you have to play the best and the playing them week in week out can only help.
However the problem is that this does come to the detriment of local talent and if all of your top league scrum halves for example are foreign where do you get your national stars from? There in lies the problem and one that has been prevalent in super league and not just in the fact that there are players coming over from other countries but also in the calibre of players who come here effectivley for retirement.
This is a problem not just for rugby league but is a hot talking point in football and I think that this is something that may need to be addressed, maybe a foreign player cap? It will also be helped by the fact that I believe this new franchise system will in some ways strengthen the national leagues and hopefully they will become a breeding ground of local talent.
Play more international rugby 
This is something from Jason Robinson and can clearly be seen coming from the back of rugby unions more country before club approach to the game. I think it is quite true that to develop the national game there needs to be more of it and it is something we are seriously lacking. Another is the lack of top quality opposition to test against.
It may also help to start to compete more often as England and not a collective Great Britian banner, something that would help the smaller british rugby league nations as well.
Play less super league games
This is from former Saints coach Daniel Anderson who suggests that there are too many super league games leaving the team no time to prepare for a world cup. In essence I don’t agree with this, the season finished at the same time as the NRL yet there was little problem for the Australia and New Zealand teams to get prepared. 
I think this could be keyed into the timing of the world cup, I personally don’t see why a January tournament couldn’t take place? Falling short of that England simply have to get themselves prepared earlier and the best way to do so would be playing more games over the season at interntional level.
So what to do……
Well you can see the main arguments from the games big names above and personally I think they all have good sign posts for what to do with the game. I also think the Super League needs to come more into line with the NRL in terms of playing style and refereeing if there is to be any serious challenge. The players need to play from the same rule book and sadly for the Super League the rule book everyone else uses is the NRL’s. This also highlights the need for an international governing body rather than a collection of national bodies each with their own interests.
Still with the rugby world bouyed by the success of this world cup I just hope the next one isn’t too many years away and that England learn their lessons and put up a better fight next time.
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