CONGRATULATIONS – AND TO THE LOSERS
We saw two very good Cup Finals, played in sweltering conditions, and all teams should be congratulated on their performances.
Watching as a neutral viewer, although obviously as a Yorkshireman I wanted Castleford to win, I thought it was an excellent game. The only controversial decision being when Regan Grace jumped from out of the field of play to pass the ball on, for James Roby to score his try.
I have seen such tries disallowed in the NRL, but perhaps that rule is different there.
It was disappointing that the losing team in both finals did not seem to receive their losers’ medals.
They should surely have received some recognition for their effort in getting to the finals and playing their part.
Trevor H Charnock, Bradford
COVID PROTOCOLS IGNORED
Having received tickets for the Challenge Cup final from the RFL several days before the event, along with an email advising me of the rules related to Covid for attending the game: proof via the NHS app that you are double jabbed, or of having a negative test result fourty-eight hours before, and bringing a photo ID passport or similar.
Suitably equipped, therefore, with all the necessary apps and documents, I was astounded on getting to Wembley Stadium to just be waved through, after scanning my ticket, without any of the checks as promised.
This was a government test event and I find it highly irresponsible, with the increase in cases, that the specified protocol was not followed at all. Maybe it happened at my entrance area only, but that is unlikely.
It was a poor show. I am not sure who was to blame, but someone was and should be held accountable.
If the increase in cases continues, it won’t be long before we are watching on ‘OurLeague’ again due to another lockdown.
John Cagney, Manchester
GOOD FOR THE GAME
The Challenge Cup weekend saw two great matches, which is good for the game as a whole.
It was a credit to the teams who played in such heat, and a shame that the stadium wasn’t filled to its usual level.
‘Abide With Me’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ were, unfortunately, murdered this year. I was cringing in my seat. It was awful.
Other than that though, it was a good day’s watching.
Mike Wright, Hull
WATER BREAKS NEEDED
Thank you to the players of Castleford and St Helens for the exceptional courage, skills and dedication they demonstrated on Saturday at Wembley.
However, would genuine respect for player welfare not have indicated ‘water breaks’, around the 20th and the 60th minute, at an appropriate break in the play?
Following the introduction of the mandatory medical check for head injuries, setting a fixed on-pitch temperature at which appropriate water breaks are mandatory would be appropriate, if not in the UK climate likely to be frequently required.
Mic Carolan, Wigan
GLOW OF CONTENTMENT
Having watched a good number of televised matches on Sky this season, I have found some of the refereeing a little intriguing.
I fully concur that refereeing is difficult but today’s officials are considerably aided by technology, and as such- it could be argued – are in a more advantageous position than their colleagues of decades ago.
It seems now that smiling, both with and at today’s players, is very important, and some referees seem able to enjoy mysterious comedic events. If only the spectators could be included in their merriment.
It also seems that strong, effective tackling is rarely tolerated nowadays. Awarding penalties against those seems to be the mode. Indeed, if a tackle dares to approach what used to be termed a ‘bell ringer’, the culprit will either spend a period in the sin bin or be banished from the field altogether.
Players must not run the risk of upsetting anyone. Banter and sledging are things of the past.
Regarding some aspects of play, knock-ons are relentlessly pursued, irrespective of where, when or who the he or she is who commits them. Facing one’s own line is irrelevant.
In truth, I have real sympathy for today’s referees. Players seem rarely to string two or three passes together, preferring to ‘dab’ the ball, and in a trice we see our rugby heroes thinking they have the skills of the lamented George Best.
I feel elated in some measure, to know that I am witnessing an era in which players’ personal skills far outweigh those of their counterparts of years ago. The game has never been better, or at least, that is what the Sky pundits never cease to tell us.
I feel a glow of contentment.
Chris Riordan, Charnock Richard, nr Chorley
LOOK AT YOURSELF, NOT AT OTHERS
The letter from David Wilkinson (Mailbag, Jul 12) needs some explaining, when he says that decent people should not be against kneeling for Black Lives Matter, or George Floyd.
I find this comment a bit of a joke.
George Floyd was a career criminal. A petty thief, a drug addict. Someone who attacked a woman with a gun and spent most of his life in jail.
We are supposed to kneel for this? Even the players look confused now and some even look embarrassed.
I am only too pleased that my team, Hull FC, do not kneel. They stand in a circle, link arms and show respect that way.
Instead of saying that Bill Anderson has got it wrong, Mr Wilkinson should look at himself and his own ideas.
I am a decent person and I completely disagree with what he has to say.
Barry King, Hull
FOUR IDEAS FOR CHANGE
As an avid Rugby League fan for over thirty years, supporting both my home town team Oldham, and the London Broncos, it saddens me to see the current state of the game.
While the players and coaches are a credit to the sport, the game’s leadership leaves a lot to be desired. It is clear to see that things have gone backwards, to the extent that it is largely unknown to the general population, and in danger of going past the point of no return.
I can personally see that we have two years to save the game before the damage is irreversible, and therefore, I have a few suggestions to halt the decline.
First, rename the divisions. The name Super League is too vague. When you hear the name Super League, you might think of the FA Women’s Super League, Netball, or the doomed European Super League in football. Unless you are already a Rugby League fan you are unlikely to associate it with Rugby League.
I would therefore rename the divisions the RFL Premiership and Championship.
Second, I would restructure the league as well. I know we have done this countless times over the years, with licensing and the middle eights, but it needs doing again.
This time I would have a Premiership of fourteen teams and a Championship of ten. I would promote Toulouse, London Broncos, York and Newcastle, and get rid of Leigh and either Castleford or Wakefield from the top-flight. That would leave, by my calculation, twenty-two teams battling for ten places in the Championship. It would be tough on the twelve teams forced to become amateurs or cease to exist at all, but the sport simply can’t sustain thirty-six professional clubs.
I would then have no promotion or relegation between the two leagues for at least five years, by which time the Championship should be in a strong enough position to be a full-time division, able to sustain promotion and relegation again.
Third, looking at the international game, it is blatantly obvious to any fan that we need to bring back Great Britain, as Barrie McDermott has recently mentioned. Go back to GB tours on a four-yearly cycle.
We could then have an annual mid-season international – England versus a combined Celtic nations – which would act as a GB trial match in years when a GB tour spot is up for grabs.
I would also try to squeeze in an annual England v France match, to be played in France. Yes, the score might be a bit of a blow out, for the first couple of years, but over time France would improve and give England a meaningful test alongside the Celtic nations match.
Fourth, bring Super League back under the governance of a single body. We tried the split; it didn’t work and it cost too much money to have a separate Super League board.
I admit that some of my suggestions might be painful for some clubs, but we need to change now before it is too late.
Richard Whatmough, Grantham
BENDING THE RULES
I would like to see some control of team physios accessing the pitch during a game.
Some are now copying the NRL approach of continually following their team when on the attack, staying on the pitch to administer sips of water to several players, and then giving the thumbs-up sign as if they have been assessing an injury. They are quite clearly passing on coaching messages.
In my experience Warrington and St Helens are prime examples of this practice.
It is against the rules and is a further example of the recent cheating by bending the rules that is sadly entering the game.
Mrs Lesley Harrison, Wakefield
I HOPE I’M WRONG
The last thing I ever want to appear to be is a doom merchant, but am I alone in expressing my disappointment at the recent announcement about the World Cup?
Allow me to explain. I have mentioned on various social media platforms lately, that I would back any decision made by Jon Dutton and his team because, whatever they came up with, there would be loud shouts of ‘WRONG’! from some quarters.
But can what has recently been released be called a decision, when the Aussies have not (yet?) given a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on whether or not they will be here?
I am not sure it can. I have no doubt that Jon has thought long and deep into this and may well have had sleepless nights too. I admire him hugely, and wouldn’t be in his position for a gold pig. But will a World Cup be a World Cup, if the Green and Gold Machine is not here to defend the trophy? It’s a big NO from me on that one.
It would be like the soccer equivalent without Brazil, snooker at the Crucible without Ronnie O’Sullivan chalking his cue, or the darts at Ally Pally being Michael van Gerwen-less!
Covid isn’t Jon Dutton’s fault, nor is it the RFL’s, the NRL’s, yours or mine. It is a worldwide pandemic that has affected one and all – not the least the Greatest Game on the Planet. I still feel let down that my mates and I, who have a shed-load of World Cup tickets booked, are not aware even now of where we are gonna be on certain dates, come the Autumn.
I am the eternal optimist – if you’re a Swinton fan that is built into your DNA – but ! have a genuine fear that RLWC21 may be a severely watered down competition.
I so hope I’m wrong! Please tell me that I am.
John Spellman, Eccles
Once again Rugby League shoots itself in the foot and the fans pay the price.
Whilst I am grateful for another Salford win, creating a bit of space between them and the dreaded relegation spot, nothing will convince me that the Castleford v Salford game was anything but a farce.
It wasn’t even a joke, because jokes are meant to be funny.
I apportion no blame to Castleford for resting players before the Challenge Cup Final, but to expose young players to that kind of humiliation can do nothing for their confidence, and definitely nothing for their development as players.
It also does nothing to promote the sport to people thinking of attending a game for the first time.
Why the RFL does not routinely postpone the two games involving Challenge Cup finalists baffles me. Salford and Leeds last year fielded weakened teams in the week before the final at Wembley (which was a great advert for the game).
Saints did the same a couple of years ago against London Broncos, and were castigated for it by fans and fellow clubs and alike when the Broncos beat them.
I appreciate that some fixtures have to be cancelled due to the Covid virus pandemic. It is causing massive issues. The RFL is looking into the issue of cancellations attributed to Covid. Allegedly looking into, that is. I am fast losing faith in anything the RFL prints.
So, why doesn’t (or won’t) the RFL address the problem facing Challenge Cup finalists? It needs to be addressed and answered with alacrity (if not quicker).
I don’t know if any spectators were present at the Castleford v Salford game, but if there were they should be given their money back as they were cheated out of their hard-earned cash. I sometimes wonder why I stand up at every opportunity, to champion the cause of Rugby League against the other code. I really do.
This kind of rank, gross mismanagement by the so-called ‘leaders’ of the game makes me cringe in shame.
John Egan, Manchester