What are England’s chances in the Rugby League World Cup?
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup is due to begin shortly, kicking off at Cardiff Millennium Stadium on the 26th of October, proudly sponsored by Hertz.co.uk.
There seems no better showpiece for the opening ceremony than the majestic Millennium Stadium, and right after the formal ceremony, we’ll see England take on Australia and Wales vs. Italy in two of the most intriguing encounters of the contest.
The Rugby League World Cup is dominated by England/Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, so all eyes are on the respective matches these teams are due to play.
New Zealand are the holders and they kick off their tournament against Samoa at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, and then on the 1st November they take on France at the Parc Des Sports, Avignon.
The semi-finals will be played at Wembley and the tournament culminates at Old Trafford on the 30th of November.
Outside of New Zealand and Australia, it’s difficult to see which teams might cause England the most problems. France could well progress to the last four, but England easily saw them off with a 48-4 victory in November last year. Samoa are something of an unknown quantity and teams like Wales will always carry some threat, but England’s focus will be firmly set on the old Southern hemisphere enemies.
It’s worth mentioning that England have never won the Rugby league World Cup, although Great Britain have won it three times. This might not make a world of difference to England’s chances but they will be slightly depleted (home advantage may redress the balance).
Since the tournaments inception in 1954, Australia have taken the title nine times, Great Britain three and New Zealand just once. This illustrates the dominance of this small set of teams and in particular, Australia, although New Zealand did manage to topple them at the last tournament in 2008, proving that they are far from invincible.
Since then it’s difficult to gauge each team’s form, with the Four Nations tournament being the general yardstick of each team’s respective abilities.
Australia cruised past England in the Four Nations tournament in 2011, but England Coach Steve McNamara has instilled a sense of unity since then and on their day, England can beat anybody. England beat New Zealand in the Four Nations that year, emphasising that the World Cup can be won if they hit form. Home advantage and decent coaching could lift them to their first World Cup title as an independent England side.