On Saturday night Australia takes on England in the final of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Australia will probably win it, and that’s another RLWC done until they get around to organising the next one.
In itself that paragraph sounds so bland, but this RLWC has been all about the back stories which ranged from shambolic to heart-warming to outright hilarious.
No World Cup in any sport has stumbled across a perfect format but this one has raised the types of curiosities that rugby league seems to excel in.
Regardless of the sport Ireland likes a good moan when it comes to World cup luck, but they seemed to have a point when they went home after two wins, yet Samoa progressed having just one draw from three pool games.
At first the hosting arrangements seemed a bit spread out (not helped by the fact New South Wales couldn’t be bothered with it) but having a pool based in Papua New Guinea was a masterstroke, and a big factor in creating the festival aspect to the tournament.
It was fantastic. In a corner of Hamilton there is a part that will forever be Tongan. They even outshone the PNG fans, and that included a trip to Christchurch.
The behaviour of their fans as portrayed in a negative light was overdone. Sure, there were some serious incidents but, overall, they brought so much to this. And those vans flying a dozen or more Tongan flags were brilliant.
That red and white cavalcade through Huntly was a highlight.
The post semi-final protests against the ref have been overdone, and we all love a good online petition, but remember such complaining is not abnormal. The FA of Ireland petitioned FIFA asking for a 33 team World Cup in 2010, and the names of Wayne Barnes and a mythical person called Suzie the Waitress are still talked about here.
The Key is the We
Or was it the Ki is the Wi? The Kiwis were the highest ranked team in the world two years ago, but this was a comprehensively spectacular failure.
You could argue it all started in May when Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were omitted from the World Cup (five months away) in what seemed to be a little bit knee-jerk.
Remember when the selectors openly wondered if Simon Mannering’s place in the squad was a given a month out from the tournament?
And then there were the defections of Jason Taumalolo and others on the eve of the squad announcement. That was good news for Mannering, but what a shambles.
They went into the trenches, but the chips on the shoulders became too loud. A loss to Tonga was apparently a Blessing in Disguise, and then there was the quarter final defeat, at home, to Fiji.
4-2. 2-4. What kind of score line was that?
Shaun Johnson rightly got criticised for the “Yous guys got what you wanted” comment after the defeat, but there were similar comments from the captain and coach.
Never mind; there’s another independent review on its way.
The Key is the We
Cultural stereotypes. Passionate Italians (even though they were actually Australians) fighting each other over affairs of the heart. Mamma Mia.
And it’s not unusual for players to be sent home for tying one on and missing a flight. But for it to include a Scotsman called Johnny Walker. Possibly the highlight of the whole thing.