The Rugby League World Cup 2013 Celebration Day at the John Smith’s Stadium turned out to be an outstanding success.
Members of the Giants Heritage Project were ably led by Brian Heywood and David Thorpe in producing a day to remember at the home of Huddersfield Giants.
Prior to the conference, over a dozen Rugby League clubs brought along various heritage items.
Did you know, for example, that during the Second World War winners’ medals were not awarded – instead players received boxes of cutlery! The representatives of Featherstone Rovers had one of them on show to prove it.
Everyone who helped make this part of the occasion deserves the utmost credit, but a particular mention must go to Pat Benatmane.
She brought a stunning display from one of the game’s oldest clubs which, a few years ago, almost died.
One of the early greats, Hunslet are now steadily building for the future and with people like Pat supporting them, who says that they will not succeed?
In the conference room David Hinchliffe, formerly MP for Wakefield and the man who formed the Parliamentary All-Party Rugby League Support Group, was the Master Of Ceremonies.
After the official opening by David Oxley CBE, the panel of Robbie Hunter-Paul, John Kear, and Bev Risman OBE, under the guidance of the managing editor of Forty-20 magazine Phil Caplan, gave their opinions on rugby league and the current World Cup.
After a lunch break, Rugby League historian Tony Collins asked David Jeanes, Harry Jepson and Steve Nash for their memories about the 1972
The session began with a 20 minute film of the final in which Jeanes and Nash played – the last time Great Britain won the trophy.
The final panel consisted of John Kear, Gary Hetherington, Julia Lee, the managing director for last summer’s Festival of World Cups, Garry Schofield and Chris Thorman, was chaired by BBC commentator Dave Woods with the subject being the 2013 World Cup.
Former Huddersfield coach Kear suggested a four-year cycle of firstly the World Cup, secondly the top three or four teams from UK playing their counterparts from NRL in a World Club Championship, thirdly a Great Britain tour southern hemisphere and, finally, a European Nations tournament involving England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy.
The closing address was by Tony Collins emphasised the resilience and strengths of rugby league, before David Hinchliffe brought a memorable day to an end.
The day was marketed and priced from the start as an event for the fans.
This was only made possible because all the speakers gave generously of their time free of charge. Their reward was an audience of over 200 attendees. Will this enormously successful event be repeated? Who knows!