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Time to construct on the success of rugby league’s personal Olympics

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Shenae Ciesiolka, Julia Robinson and Lauren Brown of Australia have fun with their medals following their aspect’s victory within the Girls’s Rugby League World Cup (Image: Getty Pictures)

Australia nonetheless rule, having proven within the males’s and girls’s World Cup finals just how absolutely superb they still are in this sport, but really we were all winners at rugby league’s Olympics.

I thought the men’s final would have been a bit closer but from an early stage Samoa never convinced me they were going to win.

It just boils down to the lack of errors made by Australia, even when they’re playing at a high level of intensity, and getting the basics right. Their fitness is better than anyone else and they just make more yards. They were deserving winners of the tournament.

Australia’s women had such an obvious superiority in fitness over New Zealand in their final as well. They are all professionals and that made a difference.

It was a great day for sport at Old Trafford. For the women to have their final at that stadium showed the strides that have been made in recent years.

Having all the tournaments together – men’s, women’s and wheelchair – has been amazing and this sport has led the way again.

Australian womens rygby team celebrate winning the World Cup

Australia celebrate winning the Women’s Rugby League World Cup at Old Trafford (Picture: Shutterstock)

We’ve always had to struggle for column inches and interest so, we have needed to be innovative and create human interest stories. It’s always been the smallest of the codes and has had to go out there and lead, to do things.

Be it VAR, or blood bins or the number of substitutes used, rugby league has needed to do things first.

Even in union, they have started doing goalline drop-outs. Rugby league paid players a hundred years before they did it in union.

There’s a reason why there are so many rugby league coaches in rugby union and very few union coaches in league. I believe rugby league hides its light under a bushel, it doesn’t shout about stuff and gets taken advantage of. A lot of other sports should thank rugby league and champion its pioneering role. It would help the sport receive the credit it deserves.

This tournament showed rugby league at its best and was another example of the sport batting above its average. It felt like rugby league’s Olympic Games. That’s the best thing I can say about it.

We need to build on this. There needs to be a proper international program of matches going forward. And in the 2025 World Cup, we should go one better with PDRL (physical disability rugby league) as part of the tournament, alongside the men’s, women’s and wheelchair.

Rugby league is at a crossroads, we’re in a place of opportunity. The time to strike with the necessary investment in the game is now.

Emotional ending will provide a legacy for the game

Tom Halliwell

England’s Tom Halliwell lifts the World Cup Trophy following the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup final match between France and England (Picture: Getty Images)

The final wheelchair was brilliant to be at. I was sitting next to my old buddy Jason Robinson at the game and we loved it.

It was an amazing performance by England to win. It’s great people are starting to talk about the sport and enjoy it. It was everything you want at a World Cup – drama and excitement right until the end.

There was controversy with the French official’s antics and you don’t expect to see any official that emotional. It was so unprofessional. If a sport wants to be viewed as credible, you can’t have that.

Years of emotion came out of the England players at the end. There was so much pressure to win at home. It’s good for British sport.

As I was there smiling and cheering, I just thought to myself this would not be possible without funding from the National Lottery. I now want to see more wheelchair clubs, giving more people a chance to play. This tournament’s legacy will be giving other people in wheelchairs the inspiration to go on and play the sport too and maybe they can be at a future World Cup and create their own dreams.

There’s going to be £9.3million put into rugby league by the Lottery over the next five years. The game at every level is going to benefit.

@martinoffiah

Because of Nationwide Lottery gamers, over £750,000 of economic assist has been offered to golf equipment & communities throughout England by the RLWC2021 Created By Grants Programme.

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