NADINE Dorries has made an embarrassing blunder at a press conference for the Rugby League World Cup – after mixing up the sport with rugby union.

The UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport reminisced about Jonny Wilkinson’s iconic drop goal for England in the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

She admitted she wasn't "an expert" on the sport.

Dorries told the assembled media: “I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league because from what I've heard ... my long-standing memory is that 2003 drop-goal.

She added: "We were drinking Bloody Marys at the time ... Wow, what a moment that was.”

The Tory minister was seemingly unaware that Wilkinson had in fact been playing rugby union, as opposed to rugby league.

She continued: "I know from my limited watching – I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert who watches it all the time – it’s an incredibly physical, sometimes quite brutal, sport and it often ends up in a scrum.”

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The Sport Secretary was speaking in St Helens at a launch event for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

BBC Sport reporter Dan Roan, who was at the press conference, said Rugby League officials present were "stunned" by the comment.

The vice-president of the local club hosting the press conference, the Portico Vine Panthers, branded it “a little bit disrespectful”.

The tournament kicks off in Newcastle on October 15.

The incident follows another high-profile blunder in her role as Culture Secretary.

In April, she was mocked for a video introducing herself and her department. In it, Dorries explained she was working to ensure the public can "downstream movies" and access "tennis pitches".

There are several major differences between rugby league and rugby union. Most obviously, rugby league is played with 13 players whereas rugby union is played with 15 players. The point-scoring system is also different, as is the number of permitted substitutes.