follow @forty20magazine December 2022 Volume 12 Issue 12

Season’s greetings to all our readers


This festive issue completes our trilogy of recording the 16th World Cup in all its glory. Green and gold may have dominated the running game, but England brought home the wheelchair title in one of the best and most astonishing match-ups of the tournament.

Was it a success? Organisers are still evaluating, but two aspects they got absolutely right were to have all three World Cups running simultaneously. That meant wall-to-wall league for five weeks, the trio feeding off each other, every one of the 61 matches free-to-air.


According to initial figures, a cumulative average audience of 29.24 million tuned into the BBC across network and digital channels.

The Wheelchair final between England and France was watched by a combined peak audience of 1.3m, a game whose highlights will continue to make waves.

The biggest TV audience was for England v Samoa in the men’s semi-finals with a combined peak of 2.8m and, more significantly, a 23 per cent audience share.

England women’s semi-final loss to the Ferns saw a combined peak of 1.4m and a further two women’s matches were watched by more than a million people.

In terms of demographics, 40 per cent of the TV audience share was female, while 37 per cent of the overall viewers were under the age of 55, both important metrics for a sport whose spectatorship is in danger of stagnating.

Almost half the viewership was based south of the Midlands, with just over 10 per cent from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The women’s final was seen by nearly a million viewers in the UK, while almost two million tuned in to watch Australia overcome Samoa to win their 12th crown.

Overseas, more than 400,000 in Australia watched the men’s and women’s finals double header live, despite an 03.00am kick-off.

Champions all: Australia’s Men and Women celebrate alongside England’s Wheelchair team at Old Trafford SWPix.com

The audience awaits


Digital figures, new ways of appealing to a different younger audience, were also encouraging. The simultaneous Siva Tau and Sipi Tau before the Tonga and Samoa quarter final was the top-ranked content on social media, attracting nearly 10m views on TikTok alone.

There were some 194million impressions across all platforms. RLWC2021 chief Jon Dutton,

said: “Our ambition was to make the tournament the biggest, best and most inclusive World Cup in the sport’s 127-year history. I think we’ve achieved that and more.

“We overcame huge obstacles to make it happen, including the pandemic and the subsequent postponement. Nearly half a million came through the turnstiles in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, millions more tuning in to watch on TV or online.

“I hope we have demonstrated the appetite for all three disciplines and laid a platform for France 2025 and beyond.”


We’ve loved it all and here are the Forty20 World Cup Awards.

Tackle of the tournament: Ryan King’s incredible try-saver to deny Nicolas Claussells in the corner in the wheelchair decider.

Try: Canada Ravens’ incredible last play winner against Brazil.

Personality: Michael Cheika, who hopes the Lebanon squad will meet up in Beirut in autumn 2023.

Pundit: Freya Levy. Image: Three competitions simultaneous lifting their trophies on the pitch at Old Trafford.

Controversy: The ‘sell-out’ at Sheffield for the wheelchair semifinals that wasn’t.

Match: Australia v New Zealand women in the group stages. Player: Josh Addo-Carr. Team: The Brazil Amazonas for their infectious enthusiasm. Story: Greece men’s fight to overcome being banned.


  • So what will be the immediate legacies? Hopefully, the England Wheelchair squad receiving OBEs.


Significantly, the international

Jillaroos rule roost Ferns are put to the sword


Seb’s golden wheels 5 Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile

Five Drives & A Kick 7 Sir Kev’s Christmas message, big in South America and more... Competition time 12 Win a 2022 Grand Final DVD The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE pokes through the embers of RLWC2021 Louie the Lip 15

It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook! Match of the Month 16 Australia too strong for Samoa


London lowdown 19 England’s men fall short again Elland Road zinger 20 Kiwis push Aussies all the way

Mrs Carter’s Diary 22 Our Gemma is feeling festive World Cup moments 23 Phil Caplan goes day-by-day Stand Up For League 24 Ian Boldsworth makes his return Irvine’s Indigestion 25 Our man likes his winter warmers

Café des Treizistes 26 Mike Rylance’s French scene

League on TV 27

RSW is swamped by coverage

A future on track 35 Phil Caplan ponders the future

Latham’s Loft 42 Mike nips back to RLWC1972

Absent Friends 42 Those we have lost in 2022 Books of the Year 48 Forty20 rounds up the top reads Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner struggles through

England rock France 34 Manchester rocks for RLWC2021