Joey Barton, Paul Hayward and Mark Chapman hail rugby league as it trends #1 on Twitter

Friday night was a great night for rugby league.

With the exposure of BBC Two coverage, Australia and New Zealand served up one of the greatest international matches of all time.

In an epic showdown between two elite teams full of world class players, it was the Kangaroos who prevailed as they overturned a half-time deficit to make it through the next week’s World Cup final.

It was no surprise that people were paying huge credit to the 34 warriors who put their bodies on the line, but the extent of the praise went to new levels as the sport reached a new audience.

As news of the quality of the game spread on social media, rugby league found itself trending #1 on Twitter in the UK despite clashing with one of the country’s most popular shows ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.

And it was those non-traditional rugby league folk that helped achieved this as footballers, politicians and newspaper editors from around the country flocked in their thousands to turn on BBC Two.

Speaking on the match at Elland Road, former Premier League star Joey Barton tweeted at half-time: “Get @BBCTwo on. Australia vs New Zealand Rugby League WC semi. Incredible contest. Two phenomenal teams. 2nd half coming up. Wow.”

He continued by praising BBC presenter Mark Chapman who urged everyone to tell all their friends about the quality of the game during a motivating half-time sermon.

Former Chief Sports Writer at The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, Paul Hayward, said: Watching this Australia-New Zealand rugby league World Cup semi-final, you’d have a job arguing that rugby union’s a better game.

He later added: “Epic self-sacrifice by both sides. No idea how anyone commits their body like that for 80 minutes (16-14 to Aus).”

Rugby league legend Rob Burrow questioned: “How is our rugby league not the biggest sport. What a game”

Former NRL, Warrington Wolves and Fiji player, Ashton Sims, said: “International Rugby League has never been in a stronger position than it is right now. Understandably the NRL & SL Seasons are long, so scheduling more tests are hard on players… but I’ve never met a player who didn’t want to represent their country or heritage”

Former Leeds City Councillor, Greg Mulholland, hailed the game: “Sensational game, gutted for the @NZRL_Kiwis who were generally the better side in an amazing contest. Two disallowed tries. For me the first one shouldn’t have been. Heroic performance. Best of #rugbyleague”

Claire confirmed: “Rugby League trending all over the top 5! What a night for our sport, amazing game #bbcrl #AUSNZL”

We’ll finish with this Welsh football director who claimed he was now converted to rugby league: “I’m converted to rugby league after watching this semi final! Union has become too slow, with too much kicking. What a game!!”

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19 days ago

You really need to be messed up in your head to watch union over League. Rugby League is for real warriors. League players are the best athletes in the world. Nobody can compete with them.