A weekend of drama in three competitions was uplifting in multiple ways
For very good reasons, the lead-up to a misbegotten football World Cup in Qatar has recently dominated headlines. But at the weekend we were offered a reminder of how inspirational global sporting tournaments can be when things are done the right way.
For English fans in particular, the final stages of three other World Cups offered a thrilling sequence of contests in which – to employ Sir Alex Ferguson’s phrase – “squeaky-bum time” was never far away. In New Zealand, a record crowd saw the host nation defeat England by a cruelly narrow margin in the Women’s Rugby World Cup final. At the Emirates stadium, rugby league lovers witnessed a pulsating men’s semi-final between England and Samoa. Having been trounced 60-6 in a group game between the two sides, the Samoans sparked all-night celebrations back home after reaching the final through a drop-goal in extra time. And in Australia, the leadership of Ben Stokes saw England crowned T20 world champions, becoming the first team to hold both the International Cricket Council’s men’s World Cups at the same time.