Lee Radford fears the RL test gap may not be closed as the competition is removed from school sports

LEE Radford believes England may not close the gap with Australia as competition dwindles from the schools and junior rugby league.

It could see them being overtaken by recent finalists Samoa and Pacific giants Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Samoa's final place at the World Cup highlighted the problem of depriving England's children's sport of competition, says Lee Radford

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Samoa’s final place at the World Cup highlighted the problem of depriving England’s children’s sport of competition, says Lee RadfordPhoto credit: SWPIX.COM

Fans this side of the world are searching for souls after Shaun Wane’s men failed to reach the final on home turf, losing a classic semi-final to Samoa 27-26 in overtime.

But Castleford boss Radford, one of the men who ended the dream when he was the Islanders’ assistant, believes it could portend a societal issue rather than a rugby issue.

Competing at a young age brings success, not participating.

Radford said: “We take so much competitiveness out of school life and whether it’s amateur rugby league, football or cricket, they’re trying to win medals.

“How do you get that competitive edge when we’re trying to make last place the norm?

“We are trying to take away sports days in primary school and take away medals for representative teams in rugby league from under-12s and under-14s of all ages.

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“Then they want us to try to be elite and competitive at the top, the two don’t marry.

“In Hull, at a representative level – East versus West – they have to pick four kids from each team. Now four of the kids from the bottom team might not be good enough to play.

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“But they must now select them as a symbolic gesture.

“This inclusivity takes the edge off the best versus the best. So if England reach a World Cup final or semi-finals and don’t quite make it, that will likely be the answer for the next 25 years.

Radford wants school sports and junior rugby league to have competition

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Radford wants school sports and junior rugby league to have competition

“If we as a country and as a sport of rugby league don’t encourage that competitive edge, don’t complain if it’s not there in 20 years.”

Radford had no time off after reaching the World Cup final with Samoa, with whom he was an assistant.

After losing 30-10 to Australia on Saturday, he was back on the Castleford training ground on Monday!

And while he’s reinforced some beliefs in the way he does things, he’s picked up a small thing or two that he’s about to change.

Radford was back at Castleford immediately after the World Cup

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Radford was back at Castleford immediately after the World CupPhoto credit: SWPIX.COM

“I was there on Monday preseason,” he added.

“It always depended on how Samoa did, the better they did the less time I had off. It turned out that the lost week was the starting signal for our pre-season.

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“And the World Cup has strengthened the knowledge that no matter what level you play at, you have to be good in certain areas.

“That applies at club level to Cas or in the World Cup final with Samoa. It showed me even more how important the areas you value are.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6977258/england-rugby-league-world-cup-schools-juniors/ Lee Radford fears the RL test gap may not be closed as the competition is removed from school sports

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