Jason Robinson on Leeds Rhinos snob Maurice Lindsay and England’s World Cup chances

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Jason Robinson is a legend of both codes. (Photo: Run Communications)

It was there, on the outskirts of Leeds city centre, that Robinson gave a glimpse of the talent that would see him become a global superstar.

But for the Hunslet Club there is every chance that the England rugby union team are still waiting to get their hands on the World Cup and fans of both codes may never have had the right to the wonders of “Billy Whizz”, as he was affectionately nicknamed. .

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The 47-year-old took a trip down memory lane this week as he returned to his first club, where the next generation have every chance to fulfill their dreams.

Jason Robinson back on his old stomping ground. (Picture: Run Communications)

“I came here 41 years ago and it’s great to see the club doing amazing things here,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“National Lottery funding has been key in this through the Rugby League World Cup CreatedBy program which will help upgrade some of the club’s facilities to ensure they are kept up to date for all these children.

“I look around now and see girls playing rugby, which is huge too. Women’s football is booming, which is really good.

“Children of all ages and backgrounds play football and boxing, which is huge for the community. It’s great to see him in action.

Jason Robinson joins a session at the Hunslet Club. (Photo: Run Communications)

“The fact that kids can come here as a hub is a beacon. This gives them the opportunity to fulfill their potential. »

To say that Robinson fulfilled his potential would be an understatement.

Known for his electric speed and spellbinding footwork, the Leeds-born winger won full club honors in league with the Wigan Warriors before cementing his name in folklore with an unforgettable try in the Champions League final. Rugby World Cup 2003.

As Robinson’s extraordinary career unfolded, Headingley officials were left with a deep sense of regret.

Jason Robinson was at the Hunslet Club to see the impact of National Lottery funding (Picture: Run Communications)

“I wanted to join Leeds but unfortunately they didn’t want me,” Robinson said.

“But it was a blessing in disguise because I went to Wigan and they won it all, so sometimes it’s not always good to get what you want.

“It would have been nice to play for Leeds at some point in my career, but the fact that I had the opportunities that I had, I could never look back and have any regrets.”

Where Leeds hesitated, Wigan leapt led by a man who had a knack for getting what he wanted.

Jason Robinson at a World Cup with Adrian Lam. (Photo: SWPix.com)

Maurice Lindsay died this week aged 81, but his contribution to rugby league – including engineering the revolutionary switch to summer rugby and the advent of the Super League – will never be forgotten.

“I was just a young boy, so it was a little different for me,” Robinson recalled. “I wasn’t a big-money signing like a Martin Offiah.

“Maurice has done so much, not just for Wigan but for rugby league in general.

“Wigan’s success and dominance over the years was down to him and his vision for the club bringing in sponsors and also creating many household names.

“It’s sad that he passed away, but there are great memories and I’m sure his legacy will live on.”

Poll the opinions of supporters and the majority would say British rugby league is no better off than when Lindsay kicked off the summer era in the mid-1990s.

Jason Robinson poses with the World Cup trophy. (Photo: SWPix.com)

But Robinson feels the sport is on the cusp of another watershed moment.

“No sport has ever done enough and there are always things you can do,” he said.

“This is a key moment for rugby league. The World Cup will definitely have an impact and hopefully the IMG deal will have an impact as well.

“We have seen women’s football develop rapidly. I hope we can take advantage of it.

“It’s an exciting time for rugby league and I hope this will maximize terrestrial television coverage and bring more and more sponsors and new faces to the game.”

Given his history with the world event in both sports, there is genuine excitement when the subject moves on to the upcoming World Cup in England.

After playing in the 1995 final in the 13-man code, Robinson scored England’s only try in the famous victory over Australia in the union showpiece eight years later.

It gave him a clear idea of ​​what a World Cup triumph can do for a sport.

“People follow success and if England are successful this year they will create history and it will put them on the world map,” said Robinson, the international World Cup ambassador.

“The country supports successful teams. We have seen this with cricket and football. It will be no different with rugby league.

“It would have an impact and inspire young boys and girls to pick up a rugby ball and play the sport.”

Robinson is the only player in either code to score a try in a winning cause for England in a World Cup final.

He hopes to share that sentiment with members of Shaun Wane’s team this fall.

“I would love that because sometimes it’s hard to describe,” Robinson said.

“You become one of the privileged few. A lot of people have won Challenge Cups, the league and come back to the Regal Trophy and John Player finals, but very few have won a World Cup.

“You are part of an elite group. It has changed my life to have this success and I want them to experience the same.

“England have a good chance but unfortunately we haven’t seen much international rugby. That’s going to be one of the challenges for the teams as they haven’t played.

“Shaun Wane has a great track record and is super passionate. He’s going to lift the spirits of the England team, there’s no doubt about it. One thing they won’t struggle for is passion.

While perhaps best known for taking Jonny Wilkinson’s pass and running to score around the corner in Sydney 19 years ago, Robinson is truly a rugby league man at heart.

Watching him with a ball in his hands at the Hunslet Club, it was easy to imagine a Robinson-in-training terrorizing kids of the same age with the skills that would one day grace the world stage.

It was a key to leaving the sport for good in 2000, but Robinson never forgot his roots.

“It was tough because I had so many great memories and rugby league had been so good to me,” he said.

“But I was spoiled. I had won everything with Wigan in the space of 10 years and another opportunity presented itself.

“I always felt like when I played rugby I was flying the rugby league flag.

“My success in rugby union was entirely down to the way I played and it was always rugby league and the skills it gave me.”

The National Lottery is an official partner of this year’s Rugby World Cup. The partnership includes National Lottery players providing £750,000 of vital financial support to communities across England through the RLWC21 CreatedBy Grants scheme. For more information visit https://www.national-lottery.co.uk/life-changing/project-rugby-league-world-cup-partnership

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