Rugby League-UK sports minister drops the oval ball with drop-goal gaffe

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FILE PHOTO: Cabinet meeting in Downing Street

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, delivered a stunning gaffe on Thursday when, praising the sport of rugby league, she referenced the most famous moment in England's rugby union history.

Speaking at an event promoting this year's Rugby League World Cup in St Helens, right in the 13-man code's northern English heartland, she said: "I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league. My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal. I’ll let you into a secret. I think we were drinking bloody marys at the time. It was 11 o’clock in the morning but wow what a moment that was."

That extra-time drop goal in Sydney by Jonny Wilkinson won rugby union's World Cup for England - still the only time a northern hemisphere team has triumphed in the 15-man code.

Having been informed of her blunder, Dorries later tweeted: "Like (former England union and league winger) Jason Robinson I may have switched codes in my speech...

"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."

The tournament takes place from Oct. 15-Nov. 19. Union's next World Cup is in France next year.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ken Ferris)