England's World Cup failure under scrutiny

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The Independent Online

The Rugby Football League has brought in a consultant to quiz England players about what went wrong in the World Cup. England crashed out of the tournament in the semi-finals after a set of lacklustre performances and the players involved are being asked for their opinions.

"We are getting feedback from the players on a confidential basis," said the RFL's executive chairman, Richard Lewis. "It is not compulsory, but they might say something that they would not say to me or Tony Smith."

The players' input is part of an inquest into the failure in Australia that will be presented to a clubs' meeting in March and made public in April.

Lewis was speaking in Blackpool at the launch of the Northern Rail Cup, which is to be augmented this year for the first time by a Northern Rail nines, which will involve all the clubs not in the cup final at the resort on 12 July.

"It's a great idea because supporters of every club can book now knowing that their team will be involved," he said.

Lewis said that he was confident that the first of those Championship clubs to hit financial trouble during the credit crunch, Rochdale Hornets, will come out of administration in time to start the season. "We are not complacent," he said. "The game at Championship level is the most robust it has been for a long time."