World Cup Rock, Paper Scissors: Week five

SOME of the hits during the World Cup final didn’t just rock Suncorp Stadium – they rocked the respective craniums of England forwards James Graham and Elliott Whitehead.

In club competition, they would almost certainly have at least come off for an assessment. In Brisbane, they stayed on their haunches, waited for the birdies to stop circling and got on with the battle. Organisationally, most of this World Cup was spot-on – in fact, it was so organised that it was sometimes anally retentive and annoying. But concussion appears to have been a blind spot. The replay tents that are a mainstay on the sidelines for NRL games were strangely absent and the result was situations like Scott Taylor showing a video to medical staff in Melbourne showing England scrum-half Luke Gale had been knocked out. It’s one area we can do better in next time.

A GOOD indication of the success of the World Cup is the coverage it received around the world. Rock, Paper, Scissors didn’t notice anyone at Suncorp whom we didn’t expect – no correspondents from the New York Times and South China Morning Post. One would sincerely hope that by 2021 we have reporters in Britain from the US and Canada, since that is where the following tournament will take place. The Washington Post carried a match report from The Associated Press’ John Pye, who told readers “Mal Meninga became the first Australian to win the Rugby League World Cup as a player and a coach”. The New York Times went with Reuters, who breathlessly reported “Both sides smashed each other into exhaustion with punishing defence (as opposed to defense) and a fast-paced game”. But other big English-language newspapers, like the Times Of India and the LA Times, do not appear to have reported the result.

WHAT would we cut if we were running the 2021 World Cup?

We’d cut overlapping matches. Play them during the week, all week with perhaps only one day off. We’d get rid of the strict post-match media regulations. When you’re a print reporter and your pass doesn’t get you to where the press conference is being held, there’s something wrong. We’d give the heave-ho to double-headers; they didn’t attract double the crowds so what’s the point? We also need to get rid of the pool structure that allowed Samoa to go through with one draw while Ireland was eliminated with two wins. There should be only one super pool, not two. I’d get rid of the policy of only using match officials from Super League and the NRL. Let’s develop refs from other countries, even if the standard of officiating suffers.


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