What should replace the World Cup?

With the World Cup now postponed, there’s a void at the end of the season. With no international rugby pencilled in to replace the biggest competition in our game plenty of suggestions have been made about alternatives to not only entertain fans during Super League’s absence but also help prepare England’s stars for the World Cup in 2022.

The most obvious option is a rematch between England and the Combined Nations. The pair met mid-season in what was a tight and entertaining encounter. England suffered defeat on that occasion leaving them thirsty for revenge.

It would be quite easy to pencil in a three-game series in the Autumn between the two sides providing fans with a rugby league fix but also giving players a huge off-season to prepare for the 2022 campaign. Moreover, it would grant England players a chance to shine in front of Shaun Wane and get used to his style helping them prepare for the World Cup. Furthermore, if the same philosophies in terms of selection are used for the Combined Nations, then those on the edges of Wane’s squad could feature for the Combined Nations giving them a chance to force their way into England’s World Cup squad.

A similar idea would be the return of Yorkshire v Lancashire which was proposed by Chris Hill as soon as rumours of the postponement came through.

He pointed out that it would give 34 England internationals the chance to shine, to show that they should be featured ahead of their opposite number in the World Cup as well as offering a series with a real rivalry behind it thanks to the history between the two counties especially where rugby league is concerned.

Perhaps an out there suggestion would be a tri-nations competition against Australia and New Zealand with the teams made up of British based players. This week we showed you what such teams could look like and they’d provide exciting opposition for England to go up against.

A competition featuring the home nations could also be a viable idea and wouldn’t just benefit England. It would also help the likes of Scotland and Wales gear up towards the World Cup.

However, you could also make the argument that nothing should replace the World Cup. It’s been two really difficult years for Super League players with shorter turn-arounds due to the pandemic as well as a shorter pre-season going into 2021. All of this has it’s taken its toll causing plenty of injuries. Perhaps we should give Super League stars the chance to rest over the winter so that Super League can be less injury-hit in 2022 which would of course help preparations for the World Cup.

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