Culture Media and Sport Secretary Nadine Dorries confuses Rugby Union and Rugby League


Wrong rugby! Nadine Dorries slips up at a Rugby League World Cup event, hilariously reminiscing over ‘that 2003 drop-goal’ by Jonny Wilkinson – in rugby UNION – and even her hosts brand the Culture Secretary ‘a bit disrespectful’

  • Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport has made a gaffe
  • Cabinet minister confused Rugby Union with League at a speech in St Helens 
  • She waxed lyrical about  Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup

Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, stunned a rugby league audience by confusing the 13-man game with the rival code.

Speaking in St Helens at the launch of a report into the social impact of the Rugby League World Cup, Dorries opened her address with a reference to Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup.

‘I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league,’ she said. ‘My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal. ‘I’ll let you into a secret. I think we were drinking Bloody Mary’s at the time. It was 11 o’clock in the morning but wow what a moment that was.’

England’s Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal to clinch the Rugby Union World Cup for England

The embarrasing gaffe did not end there as Dorries, who is the MP for mid-Bedfordshire, tried to liken the sport to her own experience of politics.

Unfortunately, she chose to concentrate on the scrum, which is more a feature of Rugby Union, than league.  

Dorries continued: ‘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.’

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was confused over Rugby Union and League in a speech

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was confused over Rugby Union and League in a speech

Some may think Dorries really ought to know better. Not only does her brief include sport, but she was born and brought up in the Anfield district of Liverpool, just 10 miles from St Helens, which is in the heart of Rugby League country.

Following the awkward error, the minister tried to recover the situation by cracking a Rugby League joke on Twoitter.

‘Like Jason Robinson I may have switched codes in my speech…’ quipped Dorries.

Dorries tried to recover the situation by cracking a Rugby League joke on Twitter afterwards

Dorries tried to recover the situation by cracking a Rugby League joke on Twitter afterwards

‘Both league & union have a rich heritage in the UK. Obviously I’ve followed rugby league much less in my lifetime, but I’m looking forward to watching England (& all the home nations) in the RL World Cup this Autumn.’

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.’





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