RFL’s BRADFORD BODY BLOW
It is obviously a huge body blow to the Bradford Bulls and indeed some other professional clubs to receive the news that they have not been granted an Elite Licence to operate their Academies.
One needs to know much more about the application process and particularly the criteria for a successful application before criticising anyone about this decision.
Is it simply about a lack of finance in the game at this difficult time and a question of cutting the cloth to fit the finite and diminishing RFL budget? Or are there other good reasons for this apparently lamentable move?
Conversely, it is important to see the likes of Newcastle Thunder achieving Elite Academy status when there is a great potential to grow the sport in the North East. They have certainly made great strides in a short period of time and should be applauded for that.
Whatever, there is little doubt that the Bulls’ Elite Academy has been an inspiring benchmark for other clubs to replicate over the years, receiving tremendous support as it does from BullBuilder, the Bradford Bulls Supporters Trust.
There have been some quite amazing outcomes, where many of their young players have been developed to become successful professional Rugby League players across the UK and Down Under, as well as achieving international status. They have also for the most part, become good ambassadors and role models for our sport.
The real sadness of this decision will be the message it sends out to young people who are keen to play Rugby League and to receive the necessary guidance as well as the high level of performance development training to achieve great things in the game. The pride and pleasure derived from being part of a local Elite sports performance Academy and the confidence it builds in young people should not be underestimated.
The Bradford club, which is trying very hard to re-establish itself in the higher ranks of the game and to redeem the trust of its supporters, will be crestfallen by this decision.
The club has a long and proud tradition of developing young players, going back to the late 60s and early 70s, when Trevor Foster became the coach to the Bradford Northern Colts.
As an ex-player of some standing, Trevor was able to use his influence when working around the schools of Bradford as an Educational Welfare Officer and in his volunteering role at the famous Bradford City Police Boys Club to encourage many young people to take up the sport. Players like Keith Mumby and Brian Noble MBE were two of the notable success stories.
Since those early days and through its innovative schools and community partnerships the club always recognised the need to provide a pathway for young people to enjoy the game and to fulfil their dreams to become professional players.
It also provided the necessary outlet and divergence for many youngsters who could so easily have been drawn into anti-social behaviour and even serious crime.
In the more deprived areas of the city, as with other towns and cities, this is always an issue of genuine concern.
I believe the sport as a whole will be the loser in the longer term when a top class and proven Academy is affected in this way.
Fundamentally these Academies are the foundation of the sport and are essential to its future success. The sport must support the grass roots and ensure that everything is done to increase the number and the quality within the Academy system, and thereby invest in the huge potential to engage with young people as new entrants to the greatest game.
The rugby union code will be watching closely. This is the first layer of our pyramid.
Simon Foster, Beverley
COME BACK WOODSY
Irrespective of Monday’s result against Leigh, I feel Wigan’s current style of play is pedantic, predictable and generally poor.
Thank goodness John Woods isn’t playing.
Oh sorry, he can’t have been very good as a player because he was before the advent of Super League, and therefore must have been slow, unable to compete with today’s heroes and obviously wouldn’t have been strong enough or fit enough to make any sort of impression against today’s full-time Super professionals.
Chris Riordan, Charnock Richard, nr Chorley
WHAT HAPPENED TO WIDNES?
Martyn Sadler recently asked the question: What has happened to Widnes? (Talking Rugby League, May 10).
Two things have happened to Widnes that have ruined the club. Firstly, the disgraceful decision to throw Widnes out of Super League and give our place to the Catalans was a disaster for the Vikings. I believe Widnes have never recovered from that terrible decision.
Secondly, a few years ago, Widnes were being run by a bunch of cowboys, and they were responsible for bankrupting the club. That was another disaster that Widnes have not recovered from.
That is what has happened to Widnes.
The people who are now in charge of the club have intentions that are good, but they do not have the finances to take the club forward. That is why I would like these people to put the club up for sale again in the hope that they can attract people who do have the finances.
If they don’t do this, or get the finances needed, then sadly all I can see for Widnes is a bleak future. They will survive, but without the finances they need, they will never be the great cub they used to be.
Joseph Hamell, Widnes
GREETINGS FROM DEVON
I read your article about the paper being home delivered and thought it would not happen to me, as I live in Torquay, Devon.
So you can imagine my surprise on Monday morning when it was delivered to my home before 9am.
This makes a great change from during the lockdown, when it sometimes arrived on Wednesday instead of on Tuesday.
Bren Hand, Torquay
Fantastic! It’s 9.00am Monday morning and League Express is next to the toast and cup. I don’t know how you managed it, but I’m delighted by such great service.
Pat Benatmane, Leeds
League Express was in my letter box at 10.00am on Monday morning. What excellent new service! I can now have a good read at the start of the week. Thanks!
Roger Dicks, Bristol
DRAWS ARE NOT UNACCEPTABLE
Leeds Rhinos played golden-point time against Wakefield Trinity in order to avoid what the RFL currently considers unacceptable – a draw.
So they impose another potential twenty minutes of knocks, bruises and injuries to body and brain, for already exhausted athletes.
In the past 12 months we have seen the tragic results of long term, life-shortening effects of constant head and body collisions to rugby and soccer players. They are in danger of becoming punch-drunk in the manner we have seen of professional heavyweight boxers.
We only had to see the recent TV documentary of my old hero, Muhammed Ali, to be reminded of the tragic end result.
Think again, RFL! It’s no dishonour to the game to draw after 80 minutes. Let the referee blow the whistle and let’s all go home happy in the knowledge that our side didn’t lose.
Chris Jackson, Leeds
ARE RHINOS A PROTECTED SPECIES?
The match between Leeds v Wakefield, which went to golden point, finished with a very suspect decision.
At the very worst it was 50/50 and could have gone either way, but alas it went to the big club, the one with the big bucks, the one with a couple of people who have too much influence on Super League.
Why can’t there be a draw? There was no way Wakefield deserved to leave with nothing.
It makes you think that the Super League has an agenda to get Wakefield out. I mean, you can’t have lowly Wakefield beating the Rhinos at Headingley; hell would freeze over.
I suppose the idea is to relegate Wakefield and keep Leigh in. How much egg would be on the faces of the powers-that-be if Leigh finished bottom when they’d been invited in, especially after the Toronto fiasco.
Then they could bring in Toulouse. I’m not surprised people are losing interest and Rugby League doesn’t get much media coverage as it’s a laughing stock. On Facebook even Castleford fans think it was a dubious decision, and I’m sure many more do.
I recall the Rhinos winning the Challenge Cup with a dodgy decision, so there’s no change there then.
Deryck Thorp, Rothwell, Leeds
While watching Rugby League on SKY or BBC I often have a flutter on the match outcome, so last weekend I had a £5 bet on Hull FC to beat Wigan by 11 to 15 points.
With Wigan scoring with two minutes to go and adding the conversion, making it 16-10 to Hull, I thought my bet was over until up popped Adam Swift to intercept and score under the post with the hooter already gone.
I was then counting my winnings, until I heard the commentator say Hull were not bothering to take the conversion.
Surely the conversion should have been taken, especially when people have money on the outcome of the match. Could the Rugby League Express make me any wiser on the ruling. I am sure Hull would have taken the kick if they needed it to win the game.
Editor’s note: The rule is that a try gives the scoring team the opportunity to convert, but it can opt out of doing so.
WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?
I read with not a little disappointment the outcome of the disciplinary hearing following the Tony Clubb incident. I wonder whether those condemning his conduct had actually read the reported findings of Judge Kearl.
I was astounded that, in spite of there being no third party evidence that he said what he was accused of saying, he was still found guilty. What happened to the rule of British justice?
All the hearing had was Andre Savelio saying Clubb made a racist comment and Clubb saying he didn’t. Where was the evidence? There was none and, in addition, why was Andre Savelio not charged with foul and abusive language? There was as much evidence of him doing that as that Clubb made the comments he was accused of saying. There was a complete lack of justice in the proceedings and that is just so wrong on several levels.
Then there were Jermaine Coleman’s comments, who suggested that Clubb must be guilty so should be banned for life. That is not the fair and considered observation of a national coach, is it?
This was a very sad day for Rugby League and I personally am appalled.
Mike Bardill, Warrington
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR LAM
Several of the letters you have already published on the Clubb-Savelio affair have covered the wokeism of the RFL’s decision to suspend Tony Clubb for eight matches, yet none highlight the intention, admitted by Savelio, to get revenge on Clubb when he returned to the field.
In Law, this is “malice aforethought”, which is very different from the “heat of the moment” context cited by the RFL disciplinarians. Is this not bringing the game into disrepute? Should Savelio be punished? If not, why not? And has anyone asked Adrian Lam why he did not send Clubb back on?
Should Lam get the Nobel Peace Prize? Rugby League is a very tough contact sport, and it is my delight to see how, when the final whistle blows, both teams forget they have been knocking seven bells out of each other.
But then, I am just a ‘pommie bastard’, brought up on cricket sledging when everything was settled in the playground.
Martin King, Wigan
WHO’S PICKING WHOSE BRAINS?
The popular press was eager last week to report that Eddie Jones went to Humberside to ‘help and advise’ Hull FC coach, Brett Hodgson, on ‘matters rugby’.
Might I suggest that Eddie Jones (coach of the England team that finished fifth in the Six Nations table) was actually on a visit to pick coach Hodgson’s brain on matters rugby, rather than the other way around.
It depends how you look at it.
Glenn Sweeney, Wigan