League Express Mailbag 27 September 2021


I purchased the Daily Mail last Friday to see what it had to say about the tedious, predictable confrontation between Wigan and Leeds the previous evening.

There were pages and pages of football, cricket, boxing, Formula 1, golf and horse racing but not one single line about the match.

My theory? There was so little to write about that they didn’t bother.

As a lifelong Rugby League supporter, I suggest we change some rules so that we don’t have to endure any more matches like that.

For example, the game is now so brutal is it time we brought in American style headgear, shoulder pads and body padding to protect the players?

Also, when a game reaches stalemate, with neither side capable of making a break, the referee could allow a 15-minute period in which forward passes are allowed, to open up the opponents’ defence.

The game is in need of major surgery as a professional sport. Perhaps the way forward is to go part-time, which may make it more enjoyable.

Finally, either Terry or Barry (of the Sky Sports commentary team) continually mentioned that knockout rugby is not for entertainment.

Try telling that to the paltry 7,000 who turned up on Thursday night, which was a record low for a Wigan v Leeds game so far as I know.

Anthony Kelvin, Alwoodley



On arriving at Wigan on Thursday evening, we were surprised to be in a very long queue of several hundred cars.

Despite our recently having donated our unused credit for match tickets and car parking to the club, the hold-up was due to someone having decided that for this extra match, £5 would be charged for parking. This, despite us having our permits in the car.

I do not believe that Wigan needed an extra few thousand pounds to survive.

Between us we have over 100 years supporting Wigan, and we have taken dozens of young people with disabilities to international matches, both at Central Park and at the DW Stadium.

We are rapidly approaching our eighties, with complex heart conditions, yet we had to eventually rush to our disabled access lift.

Whatever the financial benefits of this decision, much goodwill was sacrificed.

Mic Carolan, Wigan



Shame on the small section of Warrington fans who must have been bitter and twisted to put some coach windows through after the game on Friday. And it was not the first time over the years.

But well done to those supporters who gave us their congratulations.

At Hull KR there’s a good feeling at the club, both on the field and off it.

Yes, we’ve been in the doldrums for years, but you see there’s a new feel about how Tony Smith and the club are going forward.

Considering that we have one of the smaller squads, we’ve done okay, although it’s a shame we’ve lost so many key players to injuries recently.

But when your team has its back up against the wall, after defeat to Leeds, your bench is light, and the Wire are heavy favourites in the game, you can only praise the efforts of the lads in getting a shock result.

The Catalans, on the other hand, are another ball game altogether. I’m not expecting a result in Perpignan given that they have rested and are league winners. I’m just expecting a great effort by the team

I’m sure that Adam Pearson, who has been Mr Doom and Gloom over the last few years, will be wetting himself if we get beat.

Anyway, let’s put to bed his suggestions and subtle hints that the way forward may be the clubs merging.

I know you’re getting desperate at Hull FC, but it’s never going to happen mate, never.

Move on.

Mike Wright, Hull



With reference to the Bradford Bulls v Whitehaven game and the absolutely disgusting behaviour of some so-called fans from Whitehaven, I always thought that flares were not allowed into stadiums.

It seems, however, that this rule does not apply to Whitehaven, nor for that matter to Halifax, as they were also letting off flares when we played them at the Shay.

Against Whitehaven, the stewards didn’t even know the rules about where people can stand in the stadium.

When the second flare was let off, approximately six stewards were stood watching, so why wasn’t the flare-thrower picked out and ejected from the ground?

Brian Moorhouse, Bradford



Although I read your report of the Ralph Rimmer discussions (League Express, 13 September) I have to confess to becoming bored well before the end as it didn’t tell me anything and many of your correspondents in last week’s Mailbag appear to have felt the same.

What I really want to know about is the 2022 season.

It is okay to set up working parties for beyond that, but next season is critical to the game, and I am not talking here about scrums, golden point, or ‘6 again’.

Half of the teams are already now getting some well deserved rest and relaxation, but do they know when the next season starts or when pre-season will begin?

We know that the World Cup in 2022 will start a week earlier than scheduled for 2021, and that’s all we need to know for now. The number of league games is an issue. Sky won’t broadcast the World Cup, and when they signed the latest deal there would have been a normal season of probably 29 games. They pay their money, and are entitled to the games they want. I’m sure they and will be concerned about fewer games in 2022.

If the league were to start in early January, then pre-season will be early November, just after the autumn internationals.

Apart from the obvious league structures and salary caps, this is what I wanted to know for 2022. There’s no point in setting up a committee for this as there is no time left. The discussions with clubs, Sky and players needs to be at an advanced stage, and I imagine it hasn’t been considered, and it will be to the detriment of our players, who are the beating heart of the sport.

I am not negative and have already bought my season tickets for next year, but I will be interested to see what your many correspondents think of this.

John Garner, Pickering



Congratulations to Steve Brady on the superb interview with Shaun Edwards in last week’s League Express; it made for riveting reading.

It’s so refreshing to read how the old tribal divide between ‘quinze’ and ‘treize’ is weakening in France.

Mike Rylance’s seminal work on the shameful Vichy decision, The Forbidden Game, laid bare a festering sore which only now is passing into history. Both Toulouse and Carcassonne share their iconic stadia with Rugby Union teams, and both are the better for it.

So now over to us – can we do something similar?

Edwards himself, Sinfield, Farrell and now Martin Gleeson are all Rugby League legends in high profile positions in Rugby Union. All four express an affection – or in Edwards case, a passion – for their old sport. Why not involve them in discussions about the future of Rugby League, instead of the same old, same old?

One glimmer of progress – Newcastle Thunder and Newcastle Falcons. Watch this space.

Dennis Richards OBE, Harrogate



Many thanks for the piece about Shaun Edwards  (League Express, Sept 19).

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Perpignan a couple of times so to read Shaun speak so highly of the Catalans and the pleasure he’s getting from being a Rugby League supporter again was such a refreshing change from a lot of the stuff you read about the game and the Catalans these days.

As for the people who seem concerned about a low attendance if they reach the Grand Final, all I can so is ask why. They’re one of the most, if not the most, entertaining teams in the competition.

Just go to the match and enjoy it!

John Taylor, York



I was sorry to read of an assault on match official, Joe Stearne.

Sadly, bad behaviour at matches is becoming more of a problem, but nothing seems to be done about it.

It is important to give support to a referee who has been the victim of an assault, so I would like to think the RFL was on the case very quickly. I speak from personal experience. Having been assaulted myself as a match official in football at grassroots level, I have sympathy with Joe.

The last thing you expect when you leave home is to get assaulted on the pitch and have to abandon the game. However, it does sounds like Joe got excellent protection from the teams on the day, to help him escape further injury. Let’s hope this event doesn’t put him off continuing doing something he likes doing.

You do wonder about carrying on,  but why let these people win? Let’s get back out there and show them we are stronger than they are.

I was sixty-two when I was assaulted and had been a referee for sixteen seasons without having anything close to being assaulted happen before. Okay, you get loads of abuse after games, but you just ignore that.

When I was assaulted I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted my local County Football Association for advice. They urged me to report it to the police, which I did, eventually, after a bad night’s sleep.

It went to court and I ended up with a little compensation, but that is not what it’s all about. It’s about banning people who behave like this. My assailant was fined and banned from playing football for ten years by my local County FA.

Let’s hope that, in the future when things like this happens, there is continued support to help all referees. It is so important for the future of our game to keep them.

I do hope Joe can find the inner strength to continue.

Peter Blenkin, Pocklington



It was with amazement and consternation that I read Andrew Steel’s report on the Wakefield v Hull FC, 7th September match, in which much was made of Mason Lino’s 36 consecutive, successful goal-kicks, setting a new record for both Super League and the NRL

Can anyone please tell me what the difference is between kicking a goal in the Super League and the Championship? I think I know the answer – absolutely nothing.

Mason Lino kicked 36 consecutive goals successfully, but the record – in any meaningful sense – is held by Liam Finn, with 41 consecutive successful goals kicked for Featherstone Rovers in 2012. A record equalled by Jamie Ellis, also in the Championship, for Hull Kingston Rovers in 2017.

Neither of the above feats were mentioned. Was it yet another attempt to pretend that the only form of Rugby League that counts is Super League or NRL?

Liam set the record in an away match at Keighley in front of the Premier Sports cameras. It was quite funny because the Keighley supporters and the Premier Sports team seemed completely bemused, as each conversion from Liam was greeted with much louder cheers than the tries.

But all was well at half-time. We were able to explain to them what was going on; that Liam was really helped by his team-mates, who tried hard to score tries in comparatively easily kickable positions.

Liam’s record ended, not playing for Featherstone but playing for Ireland the following week, when Ireland scored a late try on the touchline and Liam missed with his 42nd attempt.

Chris Heinitz, Featherstone

Editors note: The efforts of Liam Finn, Jamie Ellis and Barry Eaton were set out in the news story about Mason Lino’s feat on page 7. That article clearly states that Lino now holds the Super League record, but not the overall record.



Why don’t the Championship and League 1 clubs revert to winter rugby?

They’ve got nothing to lose. Summer attendances are very poor, finances are being cut severely and most clubs have no real prospect of reaching Super League.

So why not start a new winter Rugby League competition, completely separate from Super League?

Reduce the number of players to twelve per team to create a new code of rugby in which every club has an equal opportunity to be the supreme champion. Have two divisions with multiple relegation and promotion places.

B J McManus, Huddersfield