Stand alone rep weekend great, but where’s our Ashes?

Chris Chard Columnist

By Chris Chard, Chris Chard is a Roar Expert

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    Australia's Luke Lewis, left, is tackled by England's Michael Shenton during their Four Nations Final rugby league match. AP Photo/Jon Super)

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    The stand alone representative matches this week and recently released international rugby league calendar of post-world cup fixtures have mostly satisfied fans, except for one minor detail.

    Where’s our bloody Ashes series?

    For a generation of rugby league fans whose age ends in ‘teen’, the constant bleating by their elder peers for a return of rugby league’s Ashes series between Australia and Great Britain/England/Northern Union xiii must seem a bit like the annoying elderly uncle who is forever harassing the local newspaper demanding the re-introduction of national service and Blue Heelers.

    And no, buddy with the flat-brim cap and mustard coloured yoga pants, for the hundredth time I’m not talking about cricket.

    Look just google it alright?

    The arguments against the concept are equally as exhausting:

    “The season’s too long!”

    “What about the Kiwis?”

    “Australia always wins!’

    Yeah, look all valid points, but, in rebuttal…

    Now I admit my rose coloured view of the series is mostly due to impeccable timing.

    By sheer chance I was too young to remember any of the awful 80s series where English rugby league, like most of England admittedly, took a flying leap onto the slag heap.

    But the 90, 92, 94 series I remember like I remember waiting outside Wollongong showground to get Neil Pinncinelli’s autograph

    Players like Ellery Hanley, Gary Schofield, Martin Offiah (pre Lee Oudenry debacle) and the green, green grass of Wembley at 3am in the morning.

    Great series with twists, turns, stunning skill all played before big appreciative crowds.

    Even the tentative 2001 and 2003 tournaments after the disappointing 2000 World Cup had some pretty good moments and really close games.

    Don’t get me wrong, the four nations and tri-nations before it are good competitions, and the Kiwis in particular deserve their spot at the big kids table.

    But the Ashes have history, something rugby league is starting to do a better job of milking.

    A series once every four years (preferably badged as the GB Lions rather than England as in the four nations) would help keep the concept fresh for fans.

    Currently there is a four nations scheduled for 2014 and 2016 (both in the southern hemisphere strangely) so 2015 is just begging for a three game Ashes series.

    Ultimately though I feel fans from down here and up there can hit the keyboards all they want but the hopes for an Ashes series lie firmly with the white and reds.

    Sure the RFL would be keen to play the series, but unless England (or at a stretch Wales, Scotland or Ireland) win the World cup or the 2014 four nations and assure a competitive series, then I can only see the ARL again wimping out and deeming 2015 a ‘rest year’ as they did in 2012.

    So come on England, pull your finger out this world cup, give your home fans something to cheer about…and us another crack at the Ashes.

    Chris Chard
    Chris Chard

    Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • April 18th 2013 @ 1:53am
      jus de couchon said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:53am | ! Report

      Its difficult to Imagine how the 2013 RLWC can be a good thing for the game. The” Usual suspects” of Aus England and NZ will be there and entertain but the Idea that league is an International game is a delusion. No matter of marketing is likely to change that reality.

      • April 18th 2013 @ 8:01am
        Storm Boy said | April 18th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Barely anything different to the cricket world cup. All RL can do is the best it can with what it has and celebrate its game. What is wrong with that? Why should the scale relative to other codes mean it should not be played at all? You think the AFL wouldn’t love a WC as big as RL’s. And wouldn’t the AFL and its fans & media trumpet that to everyone? Instead we get naysayers trying to keep RL locked in its box. Let us celebrate our game the way we want to.

        • April 18th 2013 @ 8:09am
          Emric said | April 18th 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          Good reply.. Rugby League should play its world cup and who knows a minor team might surprise no one expected France to be beaten by Tonga and then go within 1 point and 5 minutes of winning the RWC

      • April 18th 2013 @ 9:28am
        clipper said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        jus de couchon – although what you say is reality, there was a time when league and their world cup was competitive, with a strong England (even stronger than Australia) and France. Those days have long gone, the last time a team other than Australia or Kiwis that play in Australia won was 40 years ago and now it’s blown out so much that France are 250-1 to win. At least in Cricket there is hope that the lower teams could win, like Sri Lanka when they started.

      • April 18th 2013 @ 10:48am
        Renegade said | April 18th 2013 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        I love the trolls….the funny thing is they bag the rugby league world cup yet the correponding tournament in their sport is exactly the same.

      • April 18th 2013 @ 11:32am
        Duecer said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        I was talking to an older RL loving freind who told me that the England Australian matches used to be highly anticipated, competitive and used to sell out stadiums. Seems hard to believe now, but perhaps the State of Origin by being such a huge event has culled some of the international interest. The Rugby WC may have eaten away at it as well, as before the RWC in 1987 RL had the event to themselves and now the RWC is such a big event comparetively that the two are so different in scale and interest.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 6:50am
      Sailosi said | April 18th 2013 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      That’s a bit harsh but I would like to see a situation whereby 50-60% of teams are made up of locally based or locally raised players.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 18th 2013 @ 8:13am
      Chris Hardiman said | April 18th 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Yeah I miss the Ashes. Also the tour aspect where the Poms and Emus would play club teams midweek.

    • Columnist

      April 18th 2013 @ 8:25am
      Dane Eldridge said | April 18th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Sure, bring back the rugby league Ashes!

      I would love any esteem-booster that will counteract the humiliating torching we are going to cop in cricket’s version.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 9:58am
      Storm Boy said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      Blame GB for there being no Ashes. In fact blame GB for the entire demise of RL in England and international RL. If GB had won the 2nd game of the 1990 Ashes series things in RL would be very different. Laughlin refused the kick and Eastwood missed it.

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 11:39am
        Chris Chard said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        Man you’re bringing back memories now Storm Boy…

        To be fair though the 1992 World cup final played in front of 73,000 at Wembley which GB only lost 10-6 was a pretty significant moment too

        For anyone keen Adrian McGgregor’s book ‘Simply the Best: The 1990 Kangaroo Tour’ is one of the great rugby league books if you can get your hands on it, has a lot of history about the game as well as the towns in the North of England

        • April 18th 2013 @ 3:10pm
          Storm Boy said | April 18th 2013 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

          Look at that will you. How did they manage all those spectacular tries under a 5m rule mummy? Players need 10m or the game will grind to a halt. #not

    • April 18th 2013 @ 10:57am
      Renegade said | April 18th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      The Ashes should return, it was a terrific concept. The 2003 series Australia won 3-0 however it was some of the best contests i have witnessed, the roos getting home within the dying minutes of each game.

      I can’t believe that both the 2014 and 2016 four nations are scheduled for the southern hemisphere…..surely the 2016 one is in the UK?

      The Ashes should be played every 4 years in alternating hemispheres….the year after the world cup would be when i would hold it.

      Have the four nations in the second year and then a european and pacific cup in the 3rd year followed by the world cup in year 4.

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