In 2019, I was very excited to see what the revival of Great Britain would look like. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan and we’ve quickly settled back into the England status quo as we prepare for the World Cup.
In some ways that’s a massive shame. Great Britain has such history in the sport and once upon a time it was the pinnacle especially the way they went to war against Australia for the Ashes.
However, these days it’s as clear as day to me that England needs to remain and Great Britain either needs to be forgotten or used sparingly as a special event like the Lions Tour in rugby union.
Speaking of rugby union, their success on the international stage forms the basis for why England should be the project going forward. In rugby league, for whatever reason, England and Great Britain appear to be one and the same. Very few Scottish, Welsh and Irish players force their way into Great Britain reckoning. Thus, Great Britain is not only just a fancier England team it also removes the potential of those nations.
In rugby union, those nations achieve as much as England on the international stage. Look how successful and high profile the Six Nations are? Right now and if Great Britain is prioritised, something similar to that in rugby league seems impossible.
But, if England was given the space to breath alongside Scotland, Wales and Ireland and if those teams were allowed to keep their best players the gap between England the rest would diminish helping international rugby league become more competitive.
Moreover, there’s legitimate rivalries to be carved out of England. Just look at the intensity of England v Scotland in the Euros. It was something special as is every time England come up against another home nation in rugby union. Real rivalries can be forged if England is used as the way forward. The problem with Great Britain is, and has been for so long, that it annihilates those rivalries by absorbing the opposition.
If we give England the time and space it needs as well as providing the correct platforms to the likes of Wales, Scotland and Ireland suddenly a competition which pits them against each other seems viable. Suddenly, international rugby has more significance, more attraction and more quality teams.
Having those teams as rivals would improve England as well. We talk a lot about competing with Australia and how we need something like State of Origin to enhance the international team. This could answer all those problems.
A high intensity match between England and Scotland or maybe even between England and the rest of Great Britain with serious national pride at stake could bring out the best in England as they prepare to take on the Australians whilst enhancing the talent from Scotland, Wales and Ireland by giving them something to aspire to.