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.”
England and Wales host the Rugby League World Cup in October 2013.
Greg Mulholland MP has tabled the following EDM to persuade fellow MPs to support his call for the English team to use an English anthem instead of God Save the Queen. Please email your MP and ask them to support EDM 391 “ENGLISH NATIONAL ANTHEM FOR THE RUGBY WORLD CUP”.
That this House welcomes calls for an English anthem to be used by the England Rugby League team at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup which takes place between October and November in venues across England, Wales and France; further believes that the Rugby League World Cup 2013, which is the first major international sporting tournament played on these shores since the inspiring London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, should be the first major sporting tournament where an England team sings an English anthem; notes that the World Cup will see England, Wales and Scotland competing with the Wales team using Land of My Fathers and the Scotland team Flower of Scotland and therefore believes that England should not use the UK anthem, God Save the Queen, that equally belongs to Scotland and Wales, but should use an English anthem instead; calls on the Rugby Football League to announce that England will use an English anthem and perhaps organise a poll of England fans to decide what this should be, or use the anthem chosen for English athletes used at the Commonwealth Games; looks forward to the England Rugby League team taking to the pitch for the opening game of the Rugby League World Cup 2013 at the Millennium Stadium on 26 October and proudly singing an English anthem; and further wishes the best of luck to all the distinct home nation sides participating in the tournament and hopes that they are successful.
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.”
To support Greg’s initiative please write to the RFL in support of the plan to give the fans a say:
Rugby Football League
Red Hall Lane
Notes for Editors.
Greg’s letter follows.
22nd April 2008 Our ref: GM/JT
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
Greg Mulholland MP