Rugby League World Cup: Craig Richards reflects on England Women's tournament exit as he emotionally reveals he will be leaving his role
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The Kiwis booked their place in the final with a 20-6 victory at York’s LNER Community Stadium, and will now face Australia at Old Trafford.
Richards, who emotionally announced after the game that he would be leaving his role, states having more professional teams is the only way England will be able to close the gap with the top nations.
He said: “It’s extremely hard for all of us. There’s some pretty gutted girls, which is not nice to see, but they have tried hard since day one.
"I remember when I got the job and someone sent me over the videos from the last World Cup, I thought ‘Wow, what have I done?’
"One of the tasks initially was just to get close to them, but a year or two in, my attitude was we are going to beat them.
“I thought we had a side to beat New Zealand. Someone just said we have closed the gap really well, but it’s not good enough, I’ve not spent five years trying to close a gap, I’ve spent five years trying to win a World Cup.
"It’s hard to say how close we are to turning professional. At times the competition doesn’t help, because you have all of the talent in two or three sides, so there needs to be more work done to strengthen.
"Until you get to the stage where you have to fight for every Super League game, you’ll struggle to catch these guys.
"I’m a real positive guy, I’ll get over it, no problem whatsoever. I just look at the girls and I’m so proud of them. I’ve been on the journey with them and seen how hard they work.
"I’ve seen the changes and the sacrifices they’ve made, so I can’t put into words how proud I am.
"I’ll reflect on what more I could’ve done, there are some lessons for me to learn, but I’ll get over it.
"I’m more upset for the girls because I don’t see what else they could’ve done, apart from sacking off work and training unemployed. There’s nothing more I want from these guys.
"These guys deserve to be professional, and I hope it’s the way it goes. On the back of payment, it isn’t about money, it’s about behaviours. So I hope those who do get the financial reward embrace it.
“The money needs to be a bonus, but there needs to be an attitude change.
"I won’t say too much about my future, but it’ll be someone else who takes the team forward. The decision was made a while ago.
"I’ll support from afar with the club I work for, making those players the best they can be.
"I’ll push the girls forward for club and country.
"One thing that won’t leave me is my passion for England.
"I’m Jamaican heritage, and I’m really proud of my family, but I was born in England and I’m really passionate about England.
"I’ll do what I need to, to strengthen this side.
"I want success and I’m really desperate for it.”