Waking up on Saturday, the morning after the 2020 Super League Grand Final on Friday night and few rugby league fans could believe the trends on social media, it seemed like the entire nation was talking about the thrilling end to the contest. This is not a common feature after any Super League fixture in Britain with the usual chatter mostly coming from those within rugby league circles. Indeed, the reach of the sport has historically battled to pull in sports lovers who find themselves on the fringes of the game.
That could have all changed though after a Grand Final like no other that left many in living rooms around the United Kingdom in the embrace of the person next to them, the excitement all too much to take in. Let’s have a quick look back at some of the most remarkable scenes of any Grand Final to have ever taken place.
It all started with Tommy Makinson dropping into the pocket and setting himself up for a drop goal in the 80th minute with the scores locked at 4-4. Makinson’s attempt initially ballooned high into the night sky of Hull before starting to track towards the posts like a torpedo, the Wigan players would have had their hearts in their mouths as they watched the ball sail over their heads. When it eventually clattered into the posts, the danger looked to have passed, only, it was St Helens’ Jack Welsby who reacted fast enough to pounce on a loose ball and score the winning try.
🤯 UNBELIEVABLE! WHAT HAVE WE JUST SEEN! 🤯
Welsby has scored at the death to win the Grand Final for St Helens!
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) November 27, 2020
As they say these days, ‘you couldn’t make it up.’
Fortunately for the future interest in rugby league, the Grand Final had been playing on more televisions around the country than usual and the reaction was one of total amazement. The question now is, how do the powers that be of the sport in England, use this to their advantage with a World Cup on the horizon?
Organizers need to keep the attention of the wider public in order for this incredible spectacle witnessed in the final to be kept alive in the minds of people. It’s a task that is easier said than done given that the season has just come to a close, but the time may have arrived to begin running an aggressive advertising campaign for the 2021 World Cup in the meanwhile?
After all, England are one of the outright favourites at 7/1 in the rugby league betting to win the competition, so the country should be getting excited by that prospect but the challenge is how to harness that excitement effectively.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 29, 2019
The fact that Australia are the World Cup defending champions could be favourable in terms of marketing the tournament given the long and ill-tempered sporting history the two nations share. Also, the famous Ashes series gets underway right at the end of the rugby league world cup in late November 2021, bringing those two together could be key. We will have to wait and see how the think tank of the sport approaches it.
In many ways though, rugby league was in desperate need of finding a way to break into a new market of sports lovers and the Grand Final has delivered just that. The custodians of the game in England cannot let that fire go out now.