League Express Mailbag – Monday 13th December

When I read recently that Channel Four are to televise live games next year, even if only ten in all and each on a Saturday, I thought, ‘About time!’
It’s years too late, but Rugby League fans should be glad that it has actually been agreed.
Obviously, Channel 4 realised that, in relocating from London to Leeds with its famous Rugby League background, becoming involved would be good public relations. I cannot remember Channel 4 previously ever even acknowledging that the game exists.
The 12:30 kick offs on a Saturday are not ideal, as at that time there is usually a shopping blitz in the stores, but we can hope that going forward those times may change.
It would be beneficial if the ten featured games could include one French team, making it clear to first-time Channel 4 viewers that Rugby League is not just an M62 parochial game.
Has the Rugby Football League done a breakdown of the typical Channel 4 viewer?
I am sure that Channel 4 itself does one on a regular basis and, if truly serious, would present a programme prior to the first televised game, explaining to their viewers how the game of Rugby League came into being. For a reputedly socially aware audience, that should resonate.
It is to be hoped that Channel 4 does not use game presenters who have no idea what they are talking about and would rather be anywhere else but presenting Rugby League on TV.
Nor should they use the typical stereotype northerner. Sonny Bill Williams and Jonny Wilkinson are both well known; they know each other and would both attract the female viewer who might otherwise not bother to watch.
To advance the televised game we need to be different. Here’s hoping!
John Wheeler, Sandbach

Like everyone associated with the sport, I believe that the news that Channel 4 will become a terrestrial broadcaster is a real shot in the arm for Rugby League at such a crucial time.
The RFL has rightly been criticised in recent years for allowing the game to regress and great credit must go to Super League Chief Commercial Officer Rhodri Jones for his role in the deal, no doubt under the stewardship of Super League Chairman Ken Davy.
What is now vitally important is that the televised games attract healthy attendances instead of the half-full stadiums we have become accustomed to during the last few years.
The clubs involved should start selling tickets as soon as possible. It would send out a positive message that the game is progressing to viewers who hitherto may not have seen much Rugby League on TV.
As regards the presenter line up, everyone will have their own ideas. I would suggest Clare Balding, who has a genuine affection for the game, and Dave Woods as the ideal presenter and commentator combination.
When it comes to pundits, a refreshing change from Sky would be welcome, with Leon Pryce and Jon Wilkin a couple of favourable options, together with the articulate Danny McGuire when he isn’t on duty for Hull KR.
Jim Howard, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

What a pleasure it was to read Richard de la Rivière’s interview with Ian Brooke (Rugby League Heroes, 6th December).
It was a great, enlightening read.
Now, contrast that with the weekly offerings from Garry Schofield. He is far too negative and, unfortunately, it’s a recurring theme.
Let me quote the very last sentence from the Ian Brooke interview, “We need more people to talk Rugby League up a bit more”. Mike Kelly, Northwich, Cheshire

Why do our Super League teams keep on recruiting overseas players, especially forwards, when our middles, if given a chance, seem to do a much better job than most of the latest quota players from the last few years and beyond.
A quick fix doesn’t always work, given the different climate, the chance of injuries and homesickness, to quote a few things that are not in their favour.
They also take the place of our up-and-coming forwards, possibly leaving them disillusioned, sent out to the Championship and possibly likely to leave the game.
Ian Haskey, Castleford

I have to disagree with Garry Schofield about Newcastle being the best location for the Magic Weekend.
I attended the Magic Weekend last season and I don’t think it was anything special. When it was in Manchester it was just as good.
I think Manchester is the best location for the Magic Weekend, whether it is at City’s or United’s ground and I am not just saying this because it is close by.
It is much nearer to the majority of Super League clubs and the atmosphere and pre-match entertainment at the Etihad was easily the equal of St James’ Park, whose only advantage is that it is nearer the city centre. But both Manchester clubs are easily accessible from the city centre via the tram.
Brian Shaw, Salford

I was amazed to read in last week’s issue (Mailbag, 6th December) that the Victoria Cross holder Jack Harrison isn’t already a member of the Hull FC Hall of Fame.
His achievements on the field were outstanding as was his obvious bravery in wartime.
I can only imagine his absence from the Hull Hall of Fame is an oversight and I would encourage the club to put right this wrong as soon as possible.
Ian Wright, Hull