By Michael Traill
A star-studded England outfit kicked off their 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign against some of the country’s best emerging talent at NIB stadium.
Facing off against an invitational side, the Combined Affiliated States (CAS) made up of players in top-grade club leagues from around Australia, gave the Perth crowd a taste of what’s to come during the 2017 World Cup.
Perth will host two matches during the competition’s group stage, when France play England and Wales play Ireland as part of a ‘double header’ event at NIB stadium on November 12.
While there was excitement in the crowd for the upcoming World Cup, many punters voiced their concern for the future of both codes of the game in Western Australia.
“It’s great to see a quality team like England playing right here at NIB (stadium)… with the (Western) Force getting chopped we don’t really know how many more opportunities we’ll get to see top grade football,” said Ashton, a diehard Cowboys fan in attendance.
In August the Australian Rugby Union board (ARU) announced that the Western Force would no longer be given a license to compete in Super Rugby, the highest level competition Australian rugby union teams can compete in.
In 2012 the NRL rejected a bid by NRLWA for a Perth based team to enter the national competition however they host two matches a year at NIB stadium, between eastern states club, as part of the NRL’s Telstra Premiership.
“I’ve always been a league fan but it was pretty disappointing of the ARU to give Western Force the flick, it’s a real shame for any rugby families over here, kids won’t have anyone to look up to in either league or union in Perth,” said Jane Cooper, another attendee at the match with her two children.
“The path way for kids playing in Perth isn’t anything like what it is in Sydney or Queensland, if they want to make their dreams of playing for the Kangaroos or Wallabies they’re faced with so many more challenges just because we live in an Aussie rules state.”
England easily won the match against CAS 74 – 12, scoring 13 tries and 11 conversation throughout the game.