Rugby league: 13 lessons the sport should learn for the next World Cup

The organisers of the 2021 World Cup should maximise TV audiences, appoint neutral referees, give players more rest and rethink scheduling and qualification

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Watching the final at my sister’s house with half a dozen sports fans – some of whom were into rugby union and none of whom knew much about league – I prepared them for the worst: “We will be 18-0 down at half-time so enjoy the build-up” etc. They were at first intrigued, asking questions and seeking rule clarifications, but by the second half they were voicing opinions and, like me, absolutely gripped. Even the Scot present was jumping up and down, screaming at the ref and charging at the screen in those last few desperate seconds. The next morning, and throughout last week, football folk I work with commented – unprompted – on “the rugby”. They meant the Rugby League World Cup final. England intrigues and a strong England unites.

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