Not just the faithful: Players from Australia and Fiji gather in the centre of the field to pray after their World Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

Not just the faithful: Players from Australia and Fiji gather in the centre of the field to pray after their World Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Among the new ground broken for rugby league during the World Cup is having the game exposed to a potentially massive global audience after BBC World Service broadcast commentary of the final between Australia and New Zealand.

It was the first time commentary of a league game had been on BBC World Service and producer Craig Wall estimated an audience of 45 million had listened to a 45-minute preview of the final on Friday.

The World Cup has also attracted publicity on CNN, which has recorded a documentary about Sonny Bill Williams and ran a story on its website after he won the RLIF international player of the year.

Williams, Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis have all been profiled by Guardian interviewer Donald McCrae, while the success of the US got league into the pages of The New York Times for the first time and inspired a YouTube hit for The Wiggles, who recorded their song USA Tomahawks Shock of the World after the win against Cook Islands.

With competitive matches, big names and good promotion, the tournament has attracted strong crowds at stadiums in Britain, Ireland and France.

As a result, World Cup organisers are set to announce a profit of $5 million and officials will for the first time have to consider how to spend that money. Here's a wrap of the good, the bad and the ugly from the 2013 rugby league World Cup.

1. THE GAMES

New Zealand's 20-18 semi-final defeat of England was the best international in memory and one of the greatest matches of all time. It would have still been a great game if Shaun Johnson hadn't broken the hearts of English fans in the 67,000 Wembley crowd and the 2.9 million watching the BBC coverage but his try 20 seconds from full-time ensured the match's place in folklore.

There were other good matches and many people have enjoyed the less structured style played by many of the teams, compared to the NRL. Games such as Scotland-Tonga, France-PNG, Scotland-Italy and USA-Cook Islands were all cliffhangers, and while none of those nations are yet capable of upsetting Australia, New Zealand or England, their improvement has been dramatic.

2. CROWDS

A sold-out final at Old Trafford ensured the decider was officially the biggest crowd for an international rugby league match and other attendance records were broken throughout.

Among them were the biggest crowds for league matches in Wales (45,052) and Ireland (5021), while the two games in France attracted a capacity 17,518 turnout in Avignon and stadium record attendance of 11,576 in Perpignan. Other ground records were broken at Workington, Wrexham and Bristol, while the 67,575 crowd at Wembley last weekend exceeded the estimation of tournament officials, who had budgeted on a 50,000 turnout.

England matches have rated well on the BBC, with the semi-final drawing 2.9 million viewers - a third of the television audience at the time of the match.

3. PASSION

Whether it was the deafening booing of the Samoa team by French fans in Perpignan, the Headingley crowd defiantly chanting ''PNG'' as New Zealand romped to victory or the Italian and US players who played for nothing, the love that so many share for the game was evident everywhere.

''Who would have thought that a player of Peter Wallace's calibre would be prepared to fly over economy class and spend 2½ weeks unpaid in Workington to play for Scotland, but he did and he loved it and he wants to do it again,'' Scotland chairman Keith Hogg said.

At every match, the teams performed laps of honour and BBC commentator Dave Woods told guests at the RLIF awards dinner that Sonny Bill Williams must have posed for a photo with every kid at the game in Headingley.

4. BROTHERHOOD

The haka the New Zealand players performed for Williams at the player of the year awards was moving for all but it was just one example of the camaraderie among players - and not only between teammates.

After playing against Fiji, rival teams would join their on-field circle of prayer and stand arm in arm, while the Kiwi players visited the French dressing room for a drink after their 42-0 win in Avignon.

Jarryd Hayne also spent time with the Fiji team, while Andrew Fifita and Michael Jennings lent their support to Tonga for the match against Italy. Cooper Cronk took time out after Australia's win in Ireland to pass on his knowledge to Wolfhounds No.7 Liam Finn and he also gave Leigh Centurions' Ryan Brierley a 30-minute one-on-one session.

5. THE MINNOWS

The way the pools and draw were structured always meant there would be mismatches in the quarter-finals but until then it was the likes of Fiji, USA, Italy and Scotland that set the World Cup alight.

Scotland and the USA were revelations and the profile of Bravehearts five-eighth Danny Brough and his Tomahawks counterpart Joseph Paulo skyrocketed as they led their teams to the quarter-finals.

The romanticism of Scotland's unbeaten run until then and the US upsetting Wales and Cook Islands after beating France in a warm-up match were highlights.

6. THE LEGACY

Fiji earned a $4-million sponsorship deal with Vodafone, a tickertape parade and official reception with the president and prime minister after reaching the semi-finals and there were other success stories involving the smaller nations.

The US also picked sponsors, and had a song written about them by The Wiggles.

The 2017 World Cup will almost certainly be in Australia and New Zealand but the fact South Africa has tabled a bid is encouraging.

7. OFF-FIELD INCIDENTS

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens had never had to speak with police in his five years in the job but he did so twice during the World Cup - forward Josh Papalii was robbed and star fullback Billy Slater was later assaulted outside a nightclub.

On both occasions, Manchester police considered the players to be victims and while no other players are known to have been charged, other incidents not involving the Kangaroos were understood to have been investigated.

England coach Steve McNamara dealt with disciplinary problems in his camp by sacking Gareth Hock, suspending James Graham and releasing Zak Hardaker.

8. REFEREES

If the World Cup referees were subjected to the same scrutiny as those in the NRL, the tournament would have appeared to be in crisis.

What helped was the lack of bleating by coaches, but it would have been interesting to see the Kiwis' reaction if they had not beaten England, as Williams knocked the arm of Gareth Widdop to make him drop the ball near the New Zealand line five minutes from full-time and Ben Cummins wrongly ruled a knock on against him. US officials were furious after a 12-0 second-half penalty count enabled Scotland to come from 8-0 down at half-time and beat the Tomahawks.

The ability of TV viewers to be able to hear the video referee as he considers a try was good and something the NRL is considering.

9. INJURIES

The sight of Cronulla backrower Luke Lewis writhing in pain after dislocating his shoulder when he crashed into an advertising sign in Australia's 34-2 win over Fiji at St Helens was sickening. Lewis' tournament ended after he slid into the sign while chasing a kick and the size of the in-goals at grounds primarily used for soccer was an issue that again raised its head. Penrith's Cameron Ciraldo also needed surgery and had to stay in England after a serious pancreas injury while playing for Italy.

10. FUNDING

Scotland officials used the spotlight of a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand to reveal on Twitter that funding cuts to the game had resulted in all of their staff being made redundant.

Fiji officials are also unhappy about a report revealing the Bati would meet Samoa in April's Pacific Test to play for a place in the 2014 Four Nations. Some believe they have already earned their place by qualifying for the semi-finals at a second consecutive World Cup.