New Zealanders awoke this morning to the shock realisation that a Rugby League World Cup is currently taking place in the United Kingdom and that a team claiming to represent New Zealand, the Kiwis, have made the final against a team representing wealthy league club owners from Australia.
“It’s a major shock to the system,” Michael Smith, an Auckland Warriors supporter, said on Radio Sport. “But are you sure you’re not pulling my leg? I mean, we all know that only Australia, New Zealand and England actually take League seriously, and that hardly makes a World Cup, unless you have a whole lot of one-sided matches against teams like Papua New Guinea, Italy, Ireland or the United States, which would be a bit of a joke wouldn’t it? Who’d take a World Cup like that seriously?”
Sky Television’s CEO, John Fellet said that their ratings numbers backed up the notion that New Zealanders had no idea the tournament was on.
“We’re not surprised the Rugby League World Cup has caught everyone by surprise,” Mr Fellet said. “Our ratings figures showed a peak viewership of seven people for the Kiwi’s semi-final game against the English last weekend. Given that we know four of those people were the Mad Butcher (Sir Peter Leitch) and his family, that’s a lot of people who have better things to do at 3am in the morning, like sleeping, watching the All Blacks win, or getting into fights on Courtenay Place in Wellington.”
When asked whether Sky expected viewership numbers to pick up for the World Cup final this weekend as news of the Kiwis appearance in the final spread, Mr Fellet said they weren’t anticipating anything remarkable.
“I think we’ve all accepted that after the whole Team New Zealand losing the America’s Cup from an 8 – 1 lead, it’s not really worth supporting an underdog team anymore. It almost always ends in disappointment and heartbreak, and we’ve been through far too much of that in 2013 for one lifetime.”
On being told that the Kiwis were the current Rugby League World Champions, having beaten Australia in the final of the 2008 edition of the tournament, Mr Fellet was visibly shocked, “Shit, I didn’t realise that was a World Cup, I just thought it was a three team competition with England, Australia and New Zealand a few other teams there as warm up matches.”