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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32 Have your say

    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 @ 11:08am
      Football United said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      Sod Great Britain, England or nothing. I am an England fan and like the majority of northerners, you know the ones who actually watch rugby league, i couldn’t give a damn about the other half of England most of the time (southern fairys etc), let alone the welsh or scots. Why should they be allowed to ride on England’s success when they do nothing to contribute to Rugby League, they have their own teams and we have ours. I’d like to see it stay that way.

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 11:43am
        Chris Chard said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

        I get what you’re saying FU but if England are really coming out here in 2014/2016 the marketing dept would need a point of difference for a 2015 series, and I think Great Britain would give it that.

        And hey Lee Briers, Brain Carney and Jonathan Davies went alright didn’t they?

        • April 18th 2013 @ 5:57pm
          Football United said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          and i likewise see the merit in yours yet i struggle to see how changing what is simply just the flag and putting some blue on the uniform is going to be that big a point of difference when all the players and majority of the fans will be English. Making a real event out of a tour is what i could see making the difference, ie playing local or NRL sides in regional areas where a test match isn’t being played.

          • Columnist

            April 22nd 2013 @ 12:30pm
            Chris Chard said | April 22nd 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Yeh good points FU, even if they just played QLD and NSW before Australia it would help make it a bit more special..I do remember a Malcolm Reilly coached side losing to Nthn NSW combined though and threatening to send the team home ha ha!

    • Roar Rookie

      April 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm
      Westie Nomad said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      The rep weekends should be expanded….
      Anzac test = excellent
      City v Country = excellent
      A couple of new ones for the same weekend…
      Combined Pacific islands v PNG test
      QLD city(Bris & Goldie) vs QLD country (the rest)

    • April 18th 2013 @ 12:24pm
      Johnno said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

      Guys rugby league in 2013 is on the up be patient.

      – RL in 2013 now has serious and real money for the 1st time to invest and expand the code in OZ/NZ, with the TV deal. It’s Australian rugby that’s broke.

      -RL in England and France are doing well. Good tv ratings in ESL, French team in ESL is helping lift the standard in France.

      -Fiji/Samoa/Tonga/PNG will send there strongest teams maybe ever at world cup 2013.

      -The ASHES I hope it comes back. It should be done every 4 years as part of the 4 year world cup cycle.

      -Rugby league in England/France/Wales will all get stronger. And maybe Irleand/Scotland/Italy

      -USA/Canada/Jamaica all getting better

      A lot of UK’s best players are coming out to OZ now too to play which will help lift the standard.

      So RL is on the up, the RL World cup in ay 2017 is going to be really high standard I predict, teams like France will be better in 4 years time.

      And rep weekend next year include Fiji VS PNG say, that would be good , not just Samoa VS Tonga.

      You could play Fiji VS PNG in Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Suva, Port Moresby, West Sydney, Auckland

      • April 18th 2013 @ 4:48pm
        Dr Chop said | April 18th 2013 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

        I’m looking forward very much to this world cup – especially USA. The vast majority of their team will be AMNRL players (unfortunately no USARL players due to the split). I think they will surprise a few teams too. Matty Elliot will have some tricks up his sleeve for sure.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 12:33pm
      Emric said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

      You always make me laugh Johno. I agree with some of what you say but you seem to forget that the 1billion dollar deal is going to be mostly used to keep the game in Australia alive and competitive with AFL rugby league is not going to suddenly over throw union in the pacific

    • April 18th 2013 @ 12:33pm
      oikee said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

      Lovely Chris, yes that was a time where Ireland Scotland, Wales and England could join together and be competitive. CVery nice, but in this day and age your going backwards by trying to revive a Lions series. Leave that to union and let them be the laughing stock.

      Comeon mate, would you ever wanted to be grouped in with south Africa and the Kiwis. ??
      No way. This contest was used to help build the Brittish isles into a major force, and sell tickets.

      Nothing more, it is a fluff competition and should be looked at as nothing more. Laugh your head off while the lions are raking million s from union folk and our country has a genuine contest between Queensland and New South Wales.
      Our two own very homegrown contest, world-class, and we get to cheer for our boys, not someone elses muppets.

      Public Rugby league enemy number one. Yes we now have a new cash for comments horror on our books. this guy is single handedly trying to take down rugby league , kill off all the hard work that goes into growing the game, single handedly.
      “Paul Kent”.
      He not only wants to get rid of our Country game, rid us of our talent pool, but he also wants to get rid of a Australian icon, our Anzac Test. ???
      What next, get rid of Origin and cut the World cup because he dont like it.
      This guy needs to be stopped, he has a voice and is obviously working for every code except the NRL.
      Why would anyone, Anyone want to chop years and years of Hard work and building up rivalries, and then want to chop them down, cut them. ???
      This guy is trouble, trouble with a capital T and must be stopped. I was always suss about him. Now he is on my hitlist.

      This country has 2 institutions, Country, which is looked at a milestone for Country poeple who have to compete against our city Bretheren, and Anzac’s.
      “State of Origin ” after over 30 years is also getting a Australian pretege about it, ??? does he want to chop this down as well. ???

      It is only 30 odd years old Paul Kent, surely you can chop this as well.
      This guy is dangerous, and now goes on the list. Soory, in modern terms, the ignore button. cheers.,

    • April 18th 2013 @ 4:15pm
      Morfs said | April 18th 2013 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

      I like the idea, but here’s my proposal (for 2015, only): Rather than the ‘usual’ ANZAC Test of Aus v NZ, why don’t we mark the 100th anniversary of ANZAC day with a ‘proper’ ANZAC Test? By that, I mean a combined Aus & NAZ team (the ANZACs) v a GB team. Think of it as a chance to get even on the Empire…

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