Nadine Dorries mixes up rugby league and union at World Cup event

Nadine Dorries SWpix

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries will be invited to sample rugby league at first hand after confusing the 13-man game with the rival code.

Dorries stunned a rugby league audience in St Helens. She referred to Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final in Sydney.

Dorries, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, was speaking at the launch of a report into the social impact made by the 2021 Rugby League World Cup at the Portico Vine community club.

“I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league,” Dorries said. “My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal.

“I’ll let you into a secret. I think we were drinking Bloody Mary’s at the time. It was 11 o’clock in the morning but wow what a moment that was.

“I have heard and I know from my limited watching that it’s an incredibly physical and sometimes brutal sport. It often ends up in a scrum, which actually reminds me very much of politics.

“I think we have a lot in common and given a lot of the media like to call me the prime minister’s attack dog, I wonder sometimes if I should give rugby a go.”

“We were floundered”

Dorries attempted make light of her faux pas, saying on Twitter that she may have “switched codes like Jason Robinson” but her comments were condemned by Portico Vine vice-chairman Billy Vaughan.

“Whoever writes these scripts should check their facts before the speeches are delivered,” Vaughan said.

“And secondly, if you are the person who is delivering the speech then you need to do your research to check the information you have been given is correct.

“The difference between rugby league and rugby union is immense – we are the minnow by comparison.

“I applaud the government for the money they have invested in rugby league but to make that reference to the drop goal – we were floundered.”

Nadine Dorries invited to watch rugby league after mixing up codes

World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton said he would be inviting Dorries back to attend the matches “to see for herself what a wonderful sport rugby league is”.

“We’re delighted that she came,” Dutton said. “We’re delighted that the Government has shown such a massive commitment to investing into the tournament; and its social impact programme.

“My final words to the Secretary of State were that we would be delighted if she were to come back to the tournament, maybe to attend each of the three disciplines; and see for herself what a wonderful sport rugby league is.”

Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer refused to criticise Dorries for her error, preferring to thank the Government for its £25million backing.

“I’m not going to dwell on that,” Rimmer said. “It’s brilliant that she’s here and we’ve had fantastic support from the Government. I’m not going to knock the shine off any of that.

“She gets a chance to see us as we really are and good on her for coming up.”

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1 Comment

  1. I’m more offended by the “we are minnows” comment. An MP making a gaffe, well, that’s par for the course, if it had been Boris he’d have brought flippers and a bat ready for a game. But the minnows…Union is propped up by the graces of the English RFU, and Establishment bias. When the codes compete on a level playing field, which rules Batley out, as in Australia then League dwarfs Union. The kind of narrow minded minnows comment dooms us to the sidelines. With Dorries, maybe if she attended a few games with a nice lunch thrown in I’m sure she won’t make the same mistake twice.

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