RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has voiced the sport’s “immense pride” in the England team following an impressive but ultimately unsuccessful Rugby League World Cup 2013 campaign.
England’s involvement in the 14-nation tournament ended with high drama yesterday (Saturday) when a last-minute try by New Zealand dashed home hopes of reaching next Saturday’s final at Old Trafford.
The late score was a cruel blow that prompted emotional scenes both on the Wembley pitch and around the stadium, where England had looked to have done enough to topple the holder in a thrilling semi-final.
“I think I speak on behalf of all England Rugby League supporters when I say that I am immensely proud of everyone within the England camp for their magnificent effort on Saturday,” said Wood.
“To get to within 20 seconds of reaching the World Cup final is an achievement in itself and there is no disgrace in being beaten by the world champions.
“Losing in the way they did was absolutely heart-breaking for everyone, especially the England players and staff, but once the pain has dulled, which it will, I hope they will all be able to reflect with pride on what has been an incredible journey.
“The messages of support we have received from fans since the final hooter sounded at Wembley demonstrate that England had the whole nation behind them on Saturday
“We have come a long way since the 2008 World Cup and the programmes that have been in place since that disappointing showing so nearly delivered.
“Our challenge now is to build on the solid foundations we have laid down and get England to where they need to be to win the Four Nations in 2014.
“Many of the young England players who performed so admirably at Wembley will form the nucleus of the national team for some years to come and the experience they have gained will be invaluable.
“Given the depth of talent we have, the passion that beats strongly in the heart of every England player and the nation’s desire to help us achieve success, the future has never looked brighter.”
The RFL will now undertake a detailed review of every element of England’s operation and performance over the coming months.
RLWC2013 concludes on Saturday at Old Trafford, Manchester, where New Zealand face Australia in front of an expected capacity crowd at 2.30pm.
All general tickets have now been sold but hospitality packages are still available by contacting the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 8472013.