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England, Australia, New Zealand: rugby league's big three

The world's best will be on display at the RLWC in 2017. Can England improve their international chances? (AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK)
Roar Guru
29th November, 2013
30
1237 Reads

The Kangaroos are one of the world’s greatest ever sporting units.

A finely tuned machine, they operate at such a daunting skill level that they literally destroy anything that comes in their way.

Their ruthless attention to the mechanics of the game leaves them merciless in the application of their power.

They are the assassins of the rugby league world and like any good assassin, they keep their humanity to themselves.

This lack of the human can make the Australians joyless to watch.

You can be in awe of them, mesmerised by them, but you cannot feel for them.

Their dominance of rugby league for such a long time has tried out the tears of joy from many admirers.

Machines can only be loved for so long.

The match between England and New Zealand, however, showed a completely different side to rugby league.

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This match, one of the greatest ever rugby league matches played, will go down in history not because it reached the cold heights of Australian skill – though it certainly had its share – but rather because of its interplay between passion and the wild hand of Lady Luck.

The emotional intensity of the English was clear.

You could feel every moment of their effort, every tackle that they made.

Every break and half-break brought out the long dormant hope for a restoration of English rugby league glory.

Playing with extraordinary desire and hunger, they drove into their opponents with not one or two players but with four, five and six players almost every time their playing lives were on the line.

If, in our fantasy world of sport, the Australians are the assassins, then until now, the English have been its minstrels. They have spent the better part of many of our lives wandering the land bereft of a tune.

If this role seems hardly the stuff of glory, remember that the English have found their tune again and that everyone loves the warm heart of a good rowdy pub song.

If the English brought with them a newly realised passion, then New Zealand brought along Lady Luck.

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Actually, one doesn’t bring her along; she arrives when she wills. And when the Mistress of (mis)fortune does deign to make her appearance, rest assured that everyone will notice.

The Kiwis’ prodigious talent was being stymied by English passion.

That talent would keep them in the game but it would seem, not let them win it.

Until she arrived.

Not only did the Mistress roll a set of dice for New Zealand, she rolled another pair against England.

A fumbled intercept, a try falling just short of the line, a kick that went where is was probably not meant to…

Lady luck is a powerful force of nature and the Kiwis are the court jesters who invite her presence.

Who can predict what they will do? They are the wild card of rugby league, a natural force brimming with so much raw talent and power that their very presence changes the landscape about them.

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Come Sunday morning, whether that landscape will be for New Zealand or against, only Lady Luck knows.