I was challenged within the heated exchanges of the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand to write an article about it instead of just spouting off missives in 280 characters on twitter.

So here we are, for a bit of background, I have covered Rugby League for over 25 years, and covered events as accredited media including Grand Finals and World Cups.

This makes me no more or less knowledgable about a situation that has come about due to a rampant virus than anyone else of course.


However, 6 weeks ago Public Health England released a projection for the UK based on the Government's opening up the plan of “Freedom Day”.




At that point to me I was quite vocal in that the World Cup would be off. The main reason would be due to the projection of 100,000 cases a day in the lead up to the World Cup and the current NRL situation of almost all teams being in isolation on the Gold Coast.

The consequence of opening up the UK in the midst of a pandemic produces an eventful avenue of problems for the Rugby League world cup, if we had stayed with limited capacity venues and hotels etc the problem would not have arisen for the World Cup as, whilst it would have meant limited capacity it would have meant the ability to isolate teams properly from the moment they arrive to the time they leave.

So the UK is open up, hotels are getting busy, bars and restaurants are buzzing and infections levels are rising.

This throws the World Cup committees plans into trouble, you have 1 Rugby League squad of 25 players plus about 15 others, physios, doctors, team staff, etc so in total, for 20 teams you have a bare minimum of 500 people coming, then you have to factor in the entourage of families, administrators and you will be at having to fully isolate 1000 people.

In the NRL they estimate the cost will be $10m for 4 weeks in Isolation for 10 NRL teams.

So here is the crux of the situation since the “Freedom Day” exclamation, 6 weeks ago, the costs rocket, the ability to find hotels where teams can fully isolate diminishes as hotels want to recoup the money they have lost over the past year and a half.

The costs of looking after fully isolated people rather than people in a country in isolation rockets as the general public are not affected by the rulers anymore and can book hotels, gyms, eating places as they wish and all these places will be lapping it up.

So the NRL come to the conclusion that as they are doing full isolation in the NRL and they are getting games rolling still, unlike the UK where we are struggling to even get Super League matches on the park, that the standards of isolation are not good enough and are below the standards they themselves adhere to.

And quite rightly, the UK, being open and not really fully isolated has lost over 150,000 citizens, whereas isolated Australia and New Zealand between them have lost 1000.

As ever though in Rugby League we easily blame those trying to improve the sport and let those dragging it down get away scot-free, currently, the Directors of the RFL, International Rugby League and RLWC are lambasting the AUS/NZ decision and the fans and media are lapping it up.

The problem is that none of this rhetoric will get the World Cup back on. What will get the world cup back on is to increase the isolation plans and the requirements of the RL WC to the levels required by the countries in the world that have the least amount of deaths from the Virus.

Most of the 1000s of atheletes and staff etc that are coming to the world cup will not have been vaccinated, most small countries are well behind, PNG with 0.6% population only vaccinated.

Then there is the problem that if you don't provide a strict biosecure location for all the teams, including the women's teams and wheelchair and all the staff, then they are capable of getting the virus, the delta variant, and taking it back to their home country, causing a disaster.

To me this seems reasonable, it appears that those who have failed many times of the last decade(s) are not being pushed hard to rectify this situation.

We HAVE to call upon the RFL/RLWC to get the government to provide more support, the figures banded about of “up to” £25m for the running of the World cup by certain media here will have to become MORE THAN £25M to make it happen.

Sadly, the gaze of the Rugby League public is lost a sea of blame for the Australia and New Zealand Rugby League committee’s who have a track record of bringing the game up, both on the pitch and off it with the best players and best juniors and the money to back up the competitions.

If we want the World Cup to happen this year, then the pressure needs to be on the UK administrators and government to make it happen and in such a way that the needs of ALL players and spectators are met.

Sadly, the end of all this will be a blame game as happens so often in Rugby League, instead of knuckling down and working to get the sport on the pitch, the planners and directors, especially in the UK lack the experience and nouse to do it.

This is why the game is losing money from TV and at clubs and why the world cup in the UK is teetering on the abyss.

This could all have been sorted 6 weeks ago, the government changed the rules if the RL WC had been run properly they would have postponed the tournament and put the problem in the hands of the Government, but instead, they took the trophies to downing street and stood with the Prime Minister a day after declaring the World Cup nations are all signed up and the game is ON.

It is not on, the game is in disarray and the answer is to make those accountable do their jobs or resign.

Other sports like the Olympics and Euros and even Wimbledon and Rugby Union friendlies, all have far more money at their disposal than RL

Come January, all those involved in the World Cup will be working elsewhere and the RFL/SL will be picking up the pieces.

So let us get it sorted now, either accept it is the UK administrators who need to fix this, or postpone it.

But let us stop thinking it is outside of the UK administrator's control and they are like Teflon. They are not, it is THEIR CALL and no one else's call, even  if the call is that they resign because they cannot get the money from the Government to cover the problem as a statement.

Either way, the responsibility is HERE and not 12,000 miles away.


The Personal Comments of
Paul Cunliffe




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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 23rd Jul 2021 11:40 AM | Views : 6489 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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