A new campaign has been launched today calling for the English Rugby League team to sing an English anthem at the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup 2013. RLWC2013 is the first major international sporting tournament to take place in the UK since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and will see England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland competing against holders New Zealand, favourites Australia and Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Italy, Cook Islands, USA.
The campaign is supported by Anthem4England, who are campaigning for an English anthem for all England teams, by British Future and by rugby league fans including the Chair of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group, Greg Mulholland MP.
Rugby league fans are being urged to sign the petition, calling on the Rugby Football League to announce that England will use an English anthem, in the same way that the Commonwealth Games correctly uses an English anthem for English athletes, instead of using God Save the Queen – which should be used by UK and British teams, such as at the Olympics and also for occasions in the future when the Rugby League British and Irish Lions come together again. The petition is at http://englishanthemforrlwc2013.com/
During the World Cup, England will compete against both Scotland and Wales who will stand and sing ‘Flower of Scotland’ and ‘Land of My Fathers’ respectively so in the same way that the England team’s shirts proudly bear the English flag, the Cross of St George, they should sing an English anthem rather than using the UK anthem which equally belongs to Scotland and Wales.
Next year, the Commonwealth Games are taking place in Glasgow and the ‘We are England’ team will be correctly using an English anthem, Jerusalem, after this was voted for in a poll before the last Commonwealth Games. See www.weareengland.org.
The campaigners are also writing to Rugby Football League Chief Executive Nigel Wood and Greg Mulholland, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group, has also tabled an Early Day Motion in support of the campaign which can be viewed here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/391
Commenting Greg Mulholland, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group and Member of Parliament for Leeds North West, said:
“The 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be a great tournament, with the best rugby league nations coming together and in the same way that Scotland and Wales have their own anthem, the England Rugby League team needs one too”.
“As well as being a very fast, exciting sport, rugby league has always been known for being progressive and forward thinking. Now is the time for the Rugby Football League to follow the lead of the Commonwealth Games England and as well a proudly wearing the English colours and waving the English flag, using an English anthem”.
“I hope that we will see England signing an English anthem, not only when they take to the pitch in the first game of RLWC2013 at the Millennium Stadium on 26ht October , but also in the semi finals at Wembley and the final at Old Trafford and hopefully this time lifting the trophy and doing the whole of England proud”.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:
“Hosting the Rugby League world Cup offers the RFL a great chance to put their sport in the spotlight by making the switch. As England Captain Kevin Sinfield is due to lead the team out for their first match in Cardiff I am sure the local audience would be pleased to see the English team recognise that being English and being British are not the same thing. There is a growing interest across all sports in having an English anthem when England take the field, with God Save The Queen used for British teams like team GB at the Olympics. Rugby League should take the lead.”
Gareth Young, of Anthem4England, said:
“The use of the British anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ by England, especially when competing against Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, smacks of imperialism. It also denies England its own discrete national identity whilst the Scots and Welsh are denied equal ownership of the British national anthem. The Cross of St George has replaced the British flag at English sporting events; it is now time to replace the British anthem with a distinctly English anthem starting with the Rugby League World Cup. Jerusalem works for me.”
Philip Davies, Conservative Member of Parliament for Shipley, said:
“I believe that it is about time that England had its own national anthem for sporting events when it is competing with the other nations within the UK. God Save the Queen in an anthem for the whole of the UK, and a separate English anthem would recognise this and also allow a greater sense of national pride in being English. I hope that the Rugby League World cup is the first tournament where this happens.”
Petition Co-ordinator Stuart Long added:
“I fully support this campaign for an English anthem to be played when England compete in Rugby League World Cup, as a nation England needs to have a unique voice like other nations of the United Kingdom like Wales & Scotland with a unique anthem.”