This morning it was reported that England, among seven other nations would be taking part in a European Championship.
In statement from European Rugby League, they said: “For European Rugby League, the momentum gained by the World Cup continues as the attention shifts towards the 2025 competition which will be played in France.
“Qualification for European men began in 2021 and is set to continue in 2023 when eight nations – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Serbia, Spain and Wales – contest the European Championships (Euro A), while Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine will meet in Euro B for the right to progress to the final qualifying tournament in 2024, with fixtures already announced.”
Meanwhile ERL Chair Dean Andrew OBE said: “On behalf of everyone in European Rugby League, I would like to send my congratulations to all associated with the staging of Rugby League World Cup 2021.
“For six weeks the three tournaments have captured our interest, imagination and hearts and reminded us of how important the international game is. We’ve seen record TV viewing figures and social media engagement, record crowds for the women’s and wheelchair tournaments, and thousands of new fans introduced to the game around the world.”
“We’ve already announced the fixtures for the men’s Euro B and further timing confirmations for the other competitions are imminent.
“The appetite for the international game is huge and I’m pleased that European Rugby League is able to have its short term calendar in place as we build towards the next global event, also in the northern hemisphere, in 2025.”
It’s caused plenty of confusion and perhaps shock.
England had reportedly been looking for a test series opponent with Australia, New Zealand and Samoa all open to playing Shaun Wane’s side when asked by the press during the Rugby League World Cup.
To see England’s name in this European Championship has caused many to speculate that it will be former Huddersfield Giants boss Paul Anderson and his England Knights team taking part in this competition.
But for the sake of argument, what benefits and drawbacks would there be to see ex-Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane lead England to European Championship glory.
For starters it would be a marketing dream. Think about the importance of international success to sporting booms.
Success in international tournaments makes the sport easier to sell and it becomes easier to drum up interest about the game so being able to market England as European Champions would be a massive tool especially in light of England football’s heartbreak in 2021 and the success of the Lionesses this year.
It would also give England a selling point going into the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, they would enter it as European Champions.
It would also give rugby league a very real answer to the Six Nations in Rugby Union which has not ever been the case.
On top of this, it would no doubt help develop the other teams in the tournament who we are routinely saying need to play against the top teams to get better.
Lastly, it could help England as it would give them a confidence boost and a sense of success. Winning becomes a habit after all.
Of course, not playing the other top teams would be a major drawback for England and that’s the problem. How can England beat Australia without playing them?
How can they move up another level without routinely playing against these sides.
Perhaps both are needed. England need to take on the top teams come back to Europe and take on the other European sides to pass on those standards to them.
But with just three years to the next world cup another summer with no meeting against Australia or New Zealand would be damaging to the hopes of winning it.