After a mere 18 years, the Super League revolution may have just about turned full circle.
While it is only an indication, the fact that the Super League Dream Team of 2013 is the first to contain not a single import from abroad suggests that top-flight rugby league in this country is beginning to put a crutch that has supported it for so long to one side.
As a record five members of the Huddersfield Giants team gained recognition, just as stunning was the fact that not one single Australian or New Zealander was selected within the ranks of the 13 players rated to be the best in their position over the season.
Really this is a factor that cannot be underplayed because, while certain clubs are facing financial problems at this very moment, this way self-sufficiency lies for Super League – and who knows possibly a stronger international side from England into the bargain.
The Australian invasion of the English game was already firmly in place before the start of Super League, but it certainly became more the norm with the move to summer rugby – there was certainly nothing exotic or exciting about hearing an Antipodean accent around the grounds.
And the switch to summer rugby did alienate some fans, and perhaps for the very reason the game didn’t feel as though it was ours any more.
I remember being told by one die-hard Halifax fan as we watched their final winter championship game against St Helens, amidst snow flurries at Thrum Hall, that he would never watch the game again as he didn’t agree with summer rugby or the number of imports.
But Super League has grown and prospered and, after a mere 18 competitions, just now it feels more English than it has been in a long while.
This is not to denigrate the input from overseas, because the English game has certainly been given a superb education by the influx of playing and coaching talent from Australia’s NRL.
But there is something very gratifying in the fact that British coaches are increasingly to the fore with Brian McDermott leading Leeds to two Grand Final wins, Shaun Wane at Wigan lifting this year’s Challenge Cup and Paul Anderson guiding the Giants to the top of the table in his first year at the helm.
And with a homegrown Dream Team to boast about, just maybe there is plenty to be cheerful about for the English game – and if not this year’s World Cup, then maybe we can win the next?
REPORTS from Canada suggest that we are not the only nation where a section of society are keen to protect their precious little ones from any kind of heartbreak.
One Canadian broadcaster has highlighted the growing concerns over the effects of competition in youth sports programmes over this summer.
It reported that many of the regional Canadian soccer associations eliminated the concept of keeping score.
However, they stated that the Soccer Association of Midlake, Ontario, had taken this concept one step further, and completely removed the ball from all youth soccer games and practices.
According to Association spokesperson, Helen Dabney-Coyle, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won and this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child’.”
“We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition.
“Rather it’s about using your imagination.
“If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.”
Before you get too angry, this is fortunately a spoof report from Canada’s ‘This Is That’ comedy show.
I just wanted you to enjoy a few moments screaming ‘this is political correctness gone mad’ at the paper!