SECRETARY of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries dropped a clanger when she got her rugby codes mixed up at today's Rugby League World Cup event at nearby St Helens.

She was speaking at Portico Vine ARLFC in the town to explain the positive impact that the autumn's event has already had across communities - particularly in the north.

However, Dorries threw in a comment at today's event which made it look like she did not know the difference between Jonny Wilkinson and Jonny Lomax. 

She said: "I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league and my long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal. I think we were drinking Bloody Mary’s at the time… but wow, what a moment that was."

That was of course the Wilkinson drop goal that saw England rugby union beat Australia and win the World Cup for the first time.

She added: “I have heard and I know from my limited watching that it’s an incredibly physical and sometimes brutal sport and it often ends up in a scrum, which actually reminds me very much of politics.

“I think we have a lot in common and given a lot of the media like to call me the prime minister’s attack dog, I wonder sometimes if I should give rugby a go.”There was an immediate response on social media.






Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer refused to criticise Dorries for her faux pas, preferring to thank the Government for its £25million backing.

“I’m not going to dwell on that,” Rimmer said. “It’s brilliant that she’s here and we’ve had fantastic support from the Government. I’m not going to knock the shine off any of that.

“She gets a chance to see us as we really are and good on her for coming up.”




“We’re delighted that she came,” Dutton said. “We’re delighted that the Government has shown such a massive commitment to investing into the tournament and its social impact programme.

“My final words to the Secretary of State were that we would be delighted if she were to come back to the tournament, maybe to attend each of the three disciplines and see for herself what a wonderful sport rugby league is.

St Helens will stage three World Cup games and host Italy and Tonga - but the spin offs across community clubs have already been felt. 

Meanwhile, Dorries has hailed the social impact of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup before a ball has been kicked, describing it as trailblazing in both its inception and delivery.

Speaking at the unveiling of the findings of a report which claims the tournament’s social impact programme is responsible for more than £25million worth of positive change in communities across the north of England.

The report, carried out by London-based The Sports Consultancy and Substance who were appointed in 2019 by RLWC2021 to undertake an evaluation of the impact of the tournament, highlights the success in tackling inequalities in deprived areas.

It is claimed the tournament, which kicks off in Newcastle on October 15, has helped turn an initial investment of £635,000 into a total of £25.8m, with the effect of improving physical and mental fitness, strengthening communities, boosting the local economy and growing the game internationally.