Mailbox: International rugby league has had a profound effect on my life

James Gordon

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor:

Dear James,

In 1963 I was a very young impressionable boy and was taken to Swinton by my father to watch a test match between Great Britain and Australia. What happened that day has for the last 55 plus years had a profound effect on my life. It was the first time the Aussies had won a test series in England and they have not lost a series since.

In my eyes they were supermen – the names trip of the tongue Langlands, Gasnier, Rapier et al..  The quality of play they produced was special and GB had no answer. A pattern that has been repeated far too often in my lifetime. Since that time I have always made it a point to attend at least one test each series and whilst resigned now to the inevitable defeat have always travelled in the hope that this will be our year!

Being something of a romantic about the game I travelled with my best friend since schooldays to Australia for the last World Cup and the experience was everything I hoped it would be. The highlight for me being the semi final in Auckland between England and Tonga. That night brought back to me memories of 1963 in how a crowd could be so captivated by what was happening on the field and how this could translate back and result in such a wonderful atmosphere. In all my years of watching the sport I have never experienced an evening like that-it was high octane and more. I came away from that night thinking Rugby League needs more of this and foolishly thought that finally progress could be made with the international game.

My hopes were further raised with the announcement of the test between England and New Zealand in Denver a superb idea during a down weekend in both the NRL and Superleague competitions and the ideal way to raise the profile of the game in new areas prior to RLWC 2015 which is scheduled for the USA and Canada. What could possibly derail this idea?

Enter the NRL clubs who it would appear do not wish this game to be a success. Several objections have been raised the majority of them flimsy to say the least.

The time has come for there to be a cerebral discussion as to whether we wish to grow this game or whether we wish to continue to be a niche sport. The success of the Toronto Wolfpack would suggest that there is a genuine interest in the sport in North America and the prospect of gaining a foothold in that market cannot and should not be ignored. Should our Australian cousins fail to see this then they are risking a split of the game akin to the 1895 split with the other code.

Currently NRL holds the power base – largely as a result of their TV deals but should the North American experiment take hold then that power base could shift.

What to me is reassuring is that the players in the England side seem to be fully behind what is happening and NRL clubs will have to be careful in the future should they be deemed to be too dictatorial in the current climate. After all future UK players may wish to ensure they are released for international duty before signing lucrative deals with them and should the North American experiment be successful they may prefer to play Stateside as after all it is nearer to home.

The stakes for this game in Denver are incredibly high and hopeful common sense will prevail and the game will take place.

Stephen Moore

Editor: We do love shooting ourselves in the foot in rugby league. While I remain unconvinced at the outlandish assumptions of some of what holding a test match in American might bring, clearly there is an appetite for international rugby league that needs servicing properly.