Friday, November 30, 2007

England, Jerusalem and next year's World Cup Finals in Australia....

The British Rugby League national team has in the past, usually completed as 'Great Britain'. However, last month's 3 match series against New Zealand was the very last time that GB as a team will ever play. It has now been disbanded and all the home nations have gone their seperate ways. (If they should all get together again as a touring party in the future then they will be play as the RU boys do under the title of 'The Lions').

Next year, the Rugby League World Cup will be held in Australia, and England and Scotland will be competing as national teams, There is therefore a real opportunity to try to persuade the Rugby League authorities in Leeds that Jerusalem should be our anthem of choice, especially as it is traditional that before every Rugby League Grand Final (the sports equivalent to the FA Cup Final) it is traditional that before the match kicks off, a selected classical singer walks onto the pitch and sings Jerusalem. The whole crowd of 68.000 join in. I listened to this year's event on the radio - and the singing of the hymn was simply fantastic.

This is what the official Grand Final site said about the pre-match entertainment -

'In the final moments before the teams walk out, the award winning Yorkshire born Lesley Garrett will sing a special arrangement of the hymn Jerusalem - the traditional anthem of the Super League Grand Final. She regularly appears in both opera, in concert and on television and has won massive critical acclaim as a recording artist; she also has eleven solo CD to her credit.
And Lesley says she is already looking forward to performing a song which she believes is highly appropriate for a major sporting occasion: ‘Jerusalem for me is most associated with sport and music and the very best situation in which to sing it is in front of 65,500 people waiting for kick-off!” She added: “It’s a song I have sung for many years and I particularly love this arrangement with the drums because it gives it such extra power and excitement. “I am thrilled to be singing it for this special engage Super League Grand Final and I know just what an exciting and emotional day it will be for everyone!”

She could have mentioned that Jerusalem is a song associated exclusively with England, but never mind, the precedent is set. They play Jerusalem as a traditional curtain raiser to their most prestigious domestic occassion - so in theory, it cannot be much of a leap of the imagination to use the hymn as England's anthem for next year's world cup, can it?

Apparently, the RFL are deciding the team logistics right now.

This is my email to the RFL HQ.


I understand that now the final GB v NZ test match series has been played, the home nations are going their own seperate ways.
In future, England will have her own team, and be playing as such in next year's Rugby League World Cup. That's something I really support, but can you tell me, will we also be having our own anthem as well before each match?

A couple of months ago, I saw the Grand Final at Old Trafford between St Helens and Leeds - and was completely knocked out by the singing of 'Jerusalem' before the action started. It was fantastic. As everyone sang for all they were worth.... and I mean, 'everyone', I would suggest that Jerusalem would make a superb anthem for the England Rugby League team - not only is it a stirring and uplifting tune, but it also actually mentions England in the words - and so is more than appropriate to be our anthem.

And as was proved on Grand Final night, it is fantastically popular amongst the ordinary people of England.

PLEASE do not go the route of picking God Save the Queen - and copying the RU and Football teams - it is the UK anthem and so, has nothing to do with England - and you can bet your life that Scotland will be picking their own anthem rather than GSTQ.

Can you please let me know asap which song you intend to use for all future England National Rugby League team matches.


Alfred the OK.


Yeti said...

I think we should sing "Ernie The Milkman" by Benny Hill. You tell the youngsters today that, and they won't understand.

But - he drove the fastest milk cart in the west


Ian said...

'And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?'
er, NO!
'And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures 'seen?
'And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?'
'And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?'
seriously - NO!

'bow', 'arrows', 'spear', 'clouds', 'chariot of fire'?
'I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.'

O yeah, let's ask 4 dumb questions and sing about building an Israeli city in England. Great anthem, not(!)OK I know the 'new Jerusalem' will be like heaven on earth when Jesus returns but the Bible describes it as descending from heaven. It ain't built by human hands, let alone English ones!

As a Christian I'm offended by the whole notion of the song and as an Englishman I'd be ashamed and embarrassed to have such drivel sung to represent by country.

Alfie said...

Ian, as an Englishman, you no doubt abhor the current de facto English anthem of God Save the Queen - especially as it is the anthem of the UK - and is therefore irrelevant to the nation of England.

As an Englishman - and therefore the sort of chap who likes to sing along to an inspiring tune, you no doubt cringe till your toes curl with embarrassment, every time the GStheQ durge groans out (especially the bit about slaughtering Scots which they never seem to play any more) before every single English sporting event.

As an Englishman - and therefore having an inbuilt sense of fair play, you can no doubt see that the denial of an anthem for England is little more than a cynical ploy by the Westminster Establishment to try and rebrand England as lesser Britain - even though by doing so it directly contravenes the UN human rights directive on national expression.

As an Englishman - and therefore a natural democrat, you will no doubt be in favour of a vote on the subject - and of abiding by the decision of the majority vote, even if 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls wins. Thankfully, in all the opinion polls you can find, 'Wannabe' has come nowhere. 'Jerusalem' on the other hand has consistently been chosen by an overwhelmingly majority of the people of England as the anthem of choice - for England. (so that's alright, then).

As an Englishman, you are no doubt generously endowed with a sense of proportion and the ability to think in the abstract. - and will therefore not take the highly symbolic wording of William Blake and childishly attempt to deliver an objective line-by-line critism of the verse by typing 'NO' and er, NO' after each and every rhyming couplet - in a vain attempt to justify your hatred of the the work....

.... You are an Englishman, aren't you?

Barry (The Elder) said...

I too am a Christian, and I think Jerusalem is just fine, what Blake was doing was questioning whether Christ was amongst us considering the wealthy landowners sent children to work in the mines and mills, Blake's words are as much relevant today as they were then, to save England we can not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in our hands against a Govt that would kill of England if only it could get it's way. In Blake's Jerusalem we have an anthem that arouses a passion that none other comes near to, and more to the point it actually mentions England

Anonymous said...

As you will all know British Rugby League’s Premier tournament, The Super League, started up again last weekend as we witnessed The Leeds Rhinos begin their defence of the title with an unconvincing win over a determined Hull KR side. It got me thinking because I’m a man who likes to gamble, and I particularly enjoy a bit of rugby league betting, whether or not Leeds can defend the super league trophy successfully. So I had a look on a gambling website (see link) to find out Leeds were evens with the Saints... Fair enough. But the same company have Wigan and Hull FC (not KR!) less likely to win that Warrington... You can back Wigan, who are led by the former Great Britain coach – Brian Noble, to win the regular season and the grand final (separate bets) at 10-1... This is Good value people. Backing Hull FC would get you a 14-1 return, which is also incredibly good value, given they are now under former New Zealand coach Peter Sharp, who knows what he is doing... All this while the consistently inconsistent Warrington Wolves are down to win at 13-2... I think if I was a Warrington fan I would bet on Wigan or Hull, or maybe even Bradford who are priced 10-1...