Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In 2017, England came excruciatingly close to winning their first-ever Rugby League World Cup as a standalone nation after having won the tournament on three occasions in the past as Great Britain.
They fought valiantly as underdogs against arguably the most dominant Australian side we have ever seen with the full-time score ending up 6-0 to the Kangaroos.
A defensive masterclass from both nations was on display with the only slip up coming on England’s end as they allowed Boyd Cordner to score in the 15th minute which ultimately decided the game.
England is hosting the World Cup this year and have big expectations on their shoulders from native fans but will be heading into the tournament without the experience of national team legends such as James Graham, Sam Burgess and 2017 captain Sean O’Loughlin who have all retired with other experienced campaigners not guaranteed a spot.
While the pressure on England to go one step further at this World Cup is understandable it will be much harder to achieve than it has been in recent tournaments that they still have not been able to win.
The talent pool in International Rugby League has gotten a lot stronger since the last World Cup while England specifically has not, at least they have not improved on paper.
Nations such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are now close to or on England’s level which means their journey back to the final itself will be much more difficult this time around.
Since their close loss at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup England has not had the best of luck.
Granted the Three Lions were able to defeat New Zealand in the 2018 Bakersville Shield but other than that they were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup Nine’s, Great Britain’s your down under ended with the side predominantly made up of English players not winning a game and in their most recent outing against the Combined Nations All-Stars England lost 26-24.
🏆📅 150 DAYS TO GO❗️
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) May 18, 2022
If England wins this year’s Rugby League World Cup or even just makes the final alone, it should be considered a huge underdog story and a big overachievement for Sean Wane’s side.