Give Fans Chance to Vote for English Anthem

GIVE FANS CHANCE TO VOTE FOR ENGLISH ANTHEM FOR THIS YEAR’S RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP – MULHOLLAND

Embargo: Immediate, Tuesday 23rd April 2008

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rugby League is calling for the England Rugby League team to use an English national anthem at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Australia in autumn.

Greg has written to the Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, Richard Lewis, saying that rugby league, as a progressive sport, should lead the way on this issue and stop the situation where England teams use the British national anthem, which is particularly strange and inappropriate when England are playing the other ‘home nations’.

Greg has also suggesting that fans could be given the chance to vote for an anthem for the England team, this could be done by way of an online poll on the Rugby Football League website.

Commenting on the proposal Greg said:

“When England is competing separately from the other home nations, it is quite wrong to use the British National Anthem. The Scotland and Wales teams will fly out to Australia with their own anthems and England needs one too.”

“Rugby League has always been a progressive sport, always prepared to be bold, and here is a chance for it to lead the way and set an example other sports can follow. I am confident that in a few years, all English teams will have an English anthem, the way all Scottish and Welsh teams now do, and do so very proudly.

“I am sure that England Rugby League fans would love the chance to have their say about what the English anthem should be, and I hope the Rugby Footabll League will take this suggestion seriously.

“I am very excited about the Rugby League World Cup in October and as an Englishman, I want the England rugby league team to head off to Australia ready to sing an England national anthem. I look forward to them doing very well out there and doing England proud.”

ENDS

To support Greg’s initiative please write to the RFL in support of the plan to give the fans a say:

Richard Lewis
Chief Executive
Rugby Football League
Red Hall
Red Hall Lane
Leeds
LS17 8NB

Notes for Editors.

Greg’s letter follows.

22nd April 2008 Our ref: GM/JT

Dear Richard

National Anthem for the England Rugby League Team

I wanted to write to you with St George’s Day tomorrow, to raise the matter of the anthem for the England team who will be competing in the Rugby League World Cup in Australia in October.

With the ‘home nations’ competing as separate nations, each team needs to have their own national anthem to be played before each match.

England’s de facto anthem is of course God Save the Queen, however this is the anthem for the United Kingdom, not England alone, and though it is absolutely right that this should be played when a Great Britain Rugby League team plays, but it is quite wrong and inappropriate for it to be used by England. As you know, the Scotland and Wales RL sides in the tournament will have their own anthems. It is time that England RL had an appropriate English anthem too.

Rugby League has always been, and continues to be a progressive sport. I think this is a great opportunity for RL to lead the way on this issue and help to end the situation where England teams use the British national anthem. It may have gone on a long time, but it is no less wrong and rugby league has never been a sport to let inappropriate traditions get in the way of sensible progress.

Cleary the choice of anthem would be an important one as I hope, and believe likely, that if the RFL did introduce an anthem for the England RL team, other sports would be encouraged to follow over the coming years. There are clearly existing songs that could be used as well as the possibility of commissioning a new song. I do feel that the key criteria must be that the English anthem must be stirring, something that all English people and players can identify with, and be proud of, and finally and crucially that is must be specifically English and about England. This in my opinion rules out Land of Hope and Glory, which although a fine tune and of course used by the English team in the Commonwealth games, is actually another song about Britain not England!

I hope the RFL may also consider involving rugby league fans in the decision of what should be the new anthem. This could be in the form of an online poll where (English!) fans could suggest an anthem that could be selected for England and played at the Rugby League World Cup. I am sure that England supporters would react enthusiastically to the idea.

I am very excited about the Rugby League World Cup in October and as a big rugby league fan and an Englishman, I want the England rugby league team to head off to Australia ready to sing an England national anthem and I look forward to them doing very well out there and doing England proud.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours sincerely

Greg Mulholland MP

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