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81,965 rugby league fans swarmed into the ANZ Stadium on a cold and bitter evening in Sydney to watch Queensland take on New South Wales in the second round in the state of origin series. Imagine having the challenge cup final played over three rounds in three different stadiums and we might come close to creating something as epic as the state of origin over here. Instead we only have one challenge cup final (last yearís attendance: 85,217) and the super league grand final (71,526) to be really proud of.
You compare this to the well-attended Australian rugby league fixtures and itís obvious that the RFL over here really do shoot themselves in the foot. For example the country of origin game is never really going to be well attended because A) England games havenít attracted many fans for years and B) The exiles fans are non-existent. We need to stop trying to recreate whatís popular in Australia and start focusing on whatís popular over here. This way we may just get a well-attended three game series alongside the challenge cup and super league grand final.
The bottom line is that rugby league in England is a club game rather than a country game and until the RFL acknowledge this weíll never move on. We have 14 super league sides and Iíd love to see the best of six clubs v the best of the other six clubs over three games in mid-season. Super league points should be at stake during these games so that the contest is taken very seriously indeed. This would work better than the Magic weekend because the magic weekend is far too long winded.
Letís say we have Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Catalans Dragons, Wakefield Trinity, Salford City Reds, Huddersfield Giants & Hull Fc v Bradford Bulls, Wigan Warriors, Harlequins, Castleford Tigers, Warrington Wolves, Celtic Crusaders & Hull KR. We can have one match in Barcelona (Catalonia), another match in London and the other match in wales. Three great stadiums in these cities to watch the very best of the best in Europe pit themselves against each other. After all rugby league is about entertainment and not about reluctantly keeping on tradition thatís no longer popular or relevant today.
Unfortunately weíre probably going to see more magic weekends (that makes fans disappear) and pointless state of origin matches. If the Exiles can get together for one week and come up with a win, then Iím sure that England could too if things were managed just a little bit better over here.