“How can you say there’s a European Championship?”

Drew Darbyshire
Ryan Brierley Scotland SWpix European Championship

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

The appetite for more international rugby league is there, but there’s growing frustration at the lack of an international calendar.

The international calendar remains unconfirmed as the governing body awaits the outcome of talks Down Under.

More than two months have passed since the end of the 2021 World Cup, which had been postponed for a year, but the majority of participating nations still don’t know when their next game might be.

England and France have announced a double-header in April. The European Championship will go ahead at the end of the year, involving England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Italy, Spain and Serbia.

But the southern hemisphere nations are key to the international calendar being confirmed. So far, they have been unable to confirm their arrangements due to the ongoing dispute between the NRL and its players.

As for the European Championship, there are no dates or venues that have been confirmed yet.

Scotland international Ryan Brierley wants the Bravehearts to bounce back from their winless World Cup with a good showing at the European Championship. But he admitted his frustration at the lack of an international calendar.

“Even now, we don’t know the fixtures,” Brierley told Love Rugby League. “We don’t have a clue.

“How can you say there’s a European Championship when you don’t know the fixtures or venues?

“It’ll have to be after October 16th which then drags into November. I know a lot of my family have started booking holidays. But I’ve had to tell them I don’t know if I can come because I don’t know when the games are on.

“They say how do you know there are games? Well I don’t know. Well how do you know you are playing? I don’t know.

“We don’t help ourselves do we? That impacts pre-season then because players are coming back late and coaches are getting the hump with it because they’ve not had enough planning time, which I get.”

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Scotland want to bounce back at European Championship

Brierley believes this autumn’s European Championship could catapult international rugby league in the northern hemisphere to the next level, and he wants Scotland to get back to their best after a disappointing World Cup.

“It’s alright us players saying we want more money in the game and better sponsors, but we’ve got to hold our end of the bargain as well,” he said.

“We’ve got to perform better. We’ve got to have better players playing in these tournaments to make the product better to make it more attractive to sponsors and bigger things.

“I’m not naive enough to think it’s all tick, tick, tick. We need to hold up our end of the bargain and we didn’t in that World Cup.

“We’ve got to get our act together and quick and make an impact on the European Championship, for sure.”

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Ryan Brierley reflects on “embarrassing” World Cup

Scotland Rugby League 2021 World Cup Nathan Graham PA
Photo: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

It was less than a decade ago when Scotland were ranked the fourth best nation in the world, only sitting behind giants Australia, New Zealand and England.

But the rise of Pacific nations like Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Fiji has nudged them down the pecking order.

The Bravehearts suffered defeats to Australia, Fiji and Italy at last year’s World Cup, as well as losing heavily to England Knights in a warm-up.

“We had a meeting about a week ago now,” Brierley said. “It was me, Dale Ferguson and obviously the staff.

“There were some bits (of the World Cup) that were good and there were some bits that were shambolic.

“For a world class environment, some of the things that happened at a World Cup should never happen. Some of it is on Scotland’s part, some of it was on kit suppliers’ part. For us, it didn’t feel like a World Cup.

“My biggest regret was not going to the Australia World Cup (2017). I got injured before it and I was devastated so I waited a long time for that World Cup just gone.

“Four of five years ago, we were the fourth best team in the world”

“You can dress it up however you want but that World Cup for us is embarrassing. We certainly need to get better and improve because we are a bit of a laughing stock at the moment. It’s not good enough.”

Scotland’s next fixture is unknown but they are one of the teams participating the European Championship this autumn.

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