What if the British Empire had an international sports team?
Buckle up Aussies, you’re in for an unpleasant ride. Imagine you and every other former colony was still part of an alive and kicking British Empire.
Now imagine that said Empire had a team for each sport and had competed internationally since 1945.
How would the world of sports look? How will it have changed? I know, it’s an odd one today.
(I will only count countries that were wholly ruled by the British, so French and American athletes do not count. I am, of course, against imperialism, and am ashamed of my country’s past, this is all for fun.)
Every World Cup. Yep, every single one of them.
Is it hardly surprising considering the British invented the sport? France is the only non-Empire country to have made the final, so all but two of the finals could not have taken place, as they would have been Empire vs Empire.
In a current world rankings, the British Empire would be miles clear at first, with France second and Argentina a distant third.
Here, quickly, is my starting Empire XV: J. Barrett, W. Jordan, R. Ioane, L. Am, M. Mapimpi, B. Barrett, F. De Klerk, T. Nyknane, C. Taylor, T. Furlong, M. Itoje, E. Etzebeth, R. Ioane, M. Hooper, A. Savea.
Two sports, two instances where the Empire win every World Cup, this time in ODI and T20. I don’t want to repeat myself, but how shocking is it that this is the case? Cricket would be dominated by the Empire, all of the current top ten in the world Test rankings would be part of an imaginary British Empire team.
My Empire XI: UT Khawaja, CA Pujara, B. Azam, JR Root, JM Bairstow, BA Stokes, RM Jadeja, DJ Mitchell, JJ Bumrah, MA Starc, TA Boult.
Two World Wars and one World Cup. Surprisingly, that chant would stay the same in our alternate universe, with not even another World Cup final to add. However, the Empire would have hosted one more World Cup, with South Africa in 2010.
Football didn’t quite seem to reach the colonies as rugby and cricket did, instead spreading to other parts of Europe and South America.
My football Empire XI (maximum five English players to spice things up): M. Ryan, A. Robertson, W. Troost-Ekong, J. Stones, D. Rice, W. Ndidi, M. Mount, R. Sterling, H. Kane, M. Salah.
After football, we go, once again, to a sport where a British Empire team would be, and would have been, completely dominant.
It’s the exact same as their cross-code rivals, as every World Cup final would be won by the Empire, and the only other country to get a look in would be the French, who for the second time would ultimately lose in two finals.
If you use the official rugby league world rankings, team Empire would be first, Serbia second, and France, to continue the pattern with our alternate rugby union world, would be third.
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Of the 44 official men’s outdoors records listed on the World Athletics website, 21 would be held by a member of the Empire – just under half. World records that stand out are those for the 100m and 200m, as well as the title for the quickest man over 400m, 800m, 1000m, 3000m, 5000m, 10000m, 21km (half-marathon) and 42km (marathon).
Team Empire would also have won the 2022 World Athletics Championships, with medals coming from across the globe to take down athletics’ big boy, the United States.
In short, a British Empire team would be unfair. Unfair for those who would have to compete against it, and unfair for the suppressive rule of the British. Don’t try Empire, kids.
Rugby – The Roar