Ex-St Helens man & Sam Tomkins explain what makes rugby league special as England skipper reveals bizarre pre-match interaction

Today Samoa and Tonga served up one of the best games of rugby league we’ve seen all year in the sport of rugby league.

It was certainly the game of the Rugby League World Cup so far as Samoa edged the Tongans 20-18 and quite rightly all the focus has been the brilliance of the contest as well as the fact that it sets up a battle between England and Samoa in the semi-finals next week at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, but there was another element to this game that needed praise.

That is the togetherness of the sport and the special bond between players from different teams and of course the fans.

After the game, as with many games, the players came together for a moment to offer their prayers and thoughts to one another and speaking on the BBC, Jon Wilkin loved this moment: “It elevates everything above sport does that, it’s about human relations. You can go toe-to-toe with somebody, an advisory but respect them enough to stand next to them, shake their hand and actually share a moment at the end of the game.

“It’s the special thing about rugby league. We forget it all the time, you can be as aggressive, as brutal to somebody you play against but walk off the field, shake their hand, go for a pint with them and that’s why anyone starts playing the game of rugby league.”

That summed up the brilliance of the Rugby League World Cup as did the bizarre sight England skipper Sam Tomkins recounted: “They were just like before the game as well. Driving into the stadium, I couldn’t get my car into the carpark because I hand a Tonga Father Christmas and a Tongan Minnie Mouse banging a drum in the middle of the road.”

Both of these demonstrate the togetherness of our great game that needs celebrating over the final two weeks of the tournament.

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