RLWC2013: Leeds MP raises ‘English anthem’ issue

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England singing God Save the Queen ahead of their Rugby League World Cup opener in Wales on Saturday would be “wrong and inappropriate”, according to a Leeds MP.

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) said the song belongs equally to all four home nations and believes Jerusalem should be used by England, an approach taken by the country at the Commonwealth Games.

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And Mr Mulholland suggested fans from Wales, Scotland and other nations agree with their English counterparts that it is wrong for England to use God Save the Queen.

The chairman of the all-party parliamentary rugby league group has tabled an early day motion (EDM) in Parliament calling for a change before competition co-hosts England kick off the tournament against Australia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Campaign group English Anthem at the Rugby League World Cup has previously written to Nigel Wood, Rugby Football League (RFL) chief executive, seeking a change.

But an England Rugby League spokesman said the team is happy to sing God Save the Queen and their focus is on winning tomorrow’s game.

Mr Mulholland’s EDM states: “This House believes that it would be wrong and inappropriate for England rugby league to use the UK National Anthem, God Save the Queen, which is the official national anthem of Wales, on the opening day of the... world cup 2013 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.”

It also notes the anthem should be sung as part of the opening ceremony by all home nations but that England should follow Scotland and Wales by using a different song before their games.

Scotland sing Flower of Scotland and Wales use Land of My Fathers.

Both nations also sing those anthems before football and rugby union fixtures, while England use God Save the Queen in those sports.

Mr Mulholland, who has continuously campaigned for English sports teams to use a different anthem, said: “The RFL must face the fact that as they have decided that England are to open the tournament at the Millennium Stadium in Wales, for England to use God Save the Queen there, which is the official national anthem of Wales, would be absurd.

“England will be playing in English colours, bearing the English cross of St George with fans waving English flags, so the England rugby league team must also use an English anthem.”

He urged the RFL to grasp the “historic opportunity to do the right thing”.

When contacted, the RFL referred the Press Association to the England team.

A spokesman for the England team said he was unsure who would make the decision for a change, but the players are happy as things stand.

He said: “The lads are focusing on the game. That’s the priority. They want to put in a performance and get off to a good start in the competition against Australia. The team and the England fans are happy to sing God Save the Queen, so it’s not a problem.”

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