York City Knights Chairman Jon Flatman says next year’s World Cup can help the city’s post coronavirus recovery plan, while benefiting the club long-term.
York was last week confirmed as the host for the New Zealand men’s team, alongside the Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands and France women’s team.
With the city’s new community stadium also hosting several matches across both competitions, Flatman says the tournament has a key role to play in regenerating York.
He explained: “It’s been a difficult time for everybody and the World Cup can give people a boost.
“We want the competition to form a strong part of the City of York’s recovery plan.
“What it will also do is raise the profile of Rugby League within the city.
“When you get any world class event, such as an Olympics, World Cup or European Championship in any sport, it attracts the casual sports and entertainment fan, and leisure spend.
“People can come along to the World Cup, see what the sport is all about, and I strongly believe that once they’ve had that taste and had a very positive experience, they will want to come back for more.
“It will also allow people within Rugby League to enjoy the new stadium and to see the passion of the people of York and North Yorkshire for the sport.”
Flatman continues to visit the new stadium around three times a week as the project nears completion.
BRADFORD BULLS coach John Kear has liked what he’s seen of the six-again rule from the NRL but he doesn’t believe it should be rushed in here.
Kear says that a watching brief on how the measure plays out for the rest of the NRL season would be more sensible, particularly given that Super League was further into its own campaign than its southern hemisphere counterpart.
Kear said: “They’d only played two games each before this was brought in.
“Some of the Super League clubs had played seven matches and that’s a quarter of the season; it’s too much to be changing it for me.
“I think we should have a watching brief on it.
“At first I was concerned there would be too many blow-out scores, but that seems to have calmed down a bit, and it’s certainly speeded the game up and kept the ball in play more.
“I can see the plus points and the negatives. I think we’d be better served monitoring it with a view to bringing it in next year.”
Kear doesn’t have any issue with the temporary scrapping of scrums if it gets Rugby League back on the field.
He added: “If it gets us back playing then we have to take it on board.
“I think the essence of scrums is that they are not a contest any more, but they are a restart, and one which puts seven on seven, creates some confusion in defensive lines and for the set after them.
“I still believe we should have scrums, but if we need to scrap them in the short term, I’m willing to do pretty much anything to get us back playing again.”
HALIFAX director of rugby Ian Croad has outlined the difficulties in planning for 2021 for Championship clubs at present.
Croad says his club currently has multiple budgets for next year based on a whole host of scenarios as they to wait to see whether or not they will be able to return to action this season.
That is one of a number of fluid scenarios that means trying to sign players for 2021 is almost impossible to plan for.
Croad explained: “The problem we’ve got is that we need a finish point for 2020 as a base line before we can then estimate what the damage is going to be.
“If we’ve not played any matches then season ticket holders and sponsors will rightly look for something back, and that has to come out of next year’s budget and the year after that.
“It’s not a quick fix.
“Playing games should be easy, but that isn’t straight forward either.
“At the moment we’ve got about six budgets in place – one if we start playing again in August, one for September and one if we don’t play.
“Then there are different budgets for if furlough becomes A, B or C – everything keeps changing.
“I spoke to a player last week that we’re interested in, but I had to tell them that we couldn’t talk money yet.
“I was just registering an interest and said that when we can get some numbers in place I’d ring them back.
“If I gave them a number now it would just be like plucking something out of thin air.”
Croad also accepts that there are differing levels of desire to return to playing this year across the competition, but says that everyone’s needs must be considered before any decisions are made.
He added: “If everything is safe then we want to get playing again and we’d consider all options, including behind closed doors if they can make it work financially.
“But we realise that everybody is in different situations as well.
“There’s no point getting to November and then having gaping holes in finances moving forward, because season ticket sales could be down, sponsorship could be down and it looks like central funding will be reduced to cover the cost of Sky missing matches.
“There’s no easy answer and everything changes every day.
“We’ve just got to try and get to the end of the year in a positive position and start planning ahead from then.”
WIDNES VIKINGS have provided a detailed update to supporters on the club’s position during the coronavirus lockdown.
In a statement issued on their website, the club outlined the work they have been doing in recent weeks, the decision to furlough staff, and details for season ticket holders.
It also stressed the Vikings’ thanks for the support of their fans since the club came close to folding last year, and it resolved to honour that faith.
The statement read: “Without the overwhelming levels of support that we received almost 18 months ago we would not be here, which is why we are constantly looking to repay that faith.
“There are countless stories of selfless acts that have contributed to saving and progressing Widnes Vikings, from donating lost season ticket money to the incredible number of VIQI contributions and the unwavering support on the terraces home and away every week.
“Our message to supporters is that we know this relationship isn’t a one-way thing, and we understand that we have an obligation to you to communicate honestly, engage and inspire and treat you as you deserve, and that’s been a big part of our ethos as a club over the past year.
“As a club, we need to continue to build our supporter base, and bring through the next generation of young Vikings supporters to the DCBL Stadium, whilst understanding the need to maintain and keep the loyal core of fans we already have.
“During this time, the club have been working hard behind the scenes to put together ideas and initiatives in which the club can continue to progress once things get back to ‘normality’, and a lot of that is with the supporters involved and at the heart of it all.
“As fans of Widnes Vikings, we would like you to be a massive part of the solution moving forward, as we are in this together.
“Hopefully there will be resolutions not too far away, and we can come together at the DCBL Stadium to show our support to Tim Sheens and the lads.”
OLDHAM Chairman Chris Hamilton says it would be “irresponsible” to make any decisions over restarting the season until Championship clubs have the full facts at their disposal.
The Championship and League One clubs are set to meet with RFL officials on June 25.
They will be presented with the full findings of the two working groups set up to investigate the feasibility of playing again in 2021 – one to look at costs, the other potential revenue streams.
Hamilton says that until those details are clearer its impossible to say what the best way forward will be.
He explained: “It would be irresponsible to make any decisions one way or the other without having those facts and all the information.
“Even then some of it will be subject to change because this is a constantly evolving picture.
“But we should certainly have a lot more information at the end of the month to look at making some decisions.
“The current situation is nobody’s fault and nobody can have all the answers because everything is changing all the time.”
WHITEHAVEN held a board meeting at the weekend as they look into the logistics of playing again in 2020, but club officials admit that the costs are daunting.
All clubs in the Championship and League One were contacted by the RFL last week to say that, as it stands, coronavirus testing for players would cost around £5,000 a week for each club.
That is seen as prohibitive by a number of clubs, including Haven, unless crowds are allowed back into stadiums.
A board spokesman told League Express: “Playing behind closed doors could cost £200,000, which really isn’t viable for a club like ours.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE centre Junior Vaivai has penned a new two-year contract at the club.
The former Hull KR centre said: “I’m really happy to stay two more seasons at Toulouse.
“We have a great group, who work hard every day, as well as a very efficient staff who know how to do so that we are at our best level every weekend.
“My family and I are excited about staying in Toulouse and continuing to learn French.
“I hope our fans are doing well after the crisis that we went through and will be able to see them soon.”
President Bernard Sarrazain added that the signing underlines the club’s Super League ambitions.
SWINTON LIONS are inviting applications for the newly former Swinton Lions Academy in partnership with the Rugby College.
The Lions Academy will offer students an opportunity to study for formal educational qualifications alongside an enhanced playing and training opportunity from September 2020 onwards.
Lions’ director of development Damian Ridpath said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for school leavers, both boys and girls, who would like to combine an educational package with playing rugby.
“All students will be supported significantly within the partnership. The club and foundation will provide a range of support alongside the education and playing offer to make this offer unique.”
Full details of how to apply are available on the Lions’ website.
LEIGH CENTURIONS coach John Duffy has urged the RFL to make a decision on this year’s Championship season and help planning for 2021.
Duffy told the Leigh Journal: “With our lads and the way they started the season, there could be lots of clubs into them, even though they want to stay where they are and carry on at Leigh Centurions.
“I was in the same situation in my playing days. You start panicking and wondering what is going on.
“It is even more so with our lads because a high percentage are full-time and don’t have another job.
“With us not having a concrete answer from the governing body everyone is getting a bit stressed. Hopefully, we can get an answer soon.”
SHEFFIELD EAGLES are hoping to capitalise on the city hosting the Greece men’s side and the French, Welsh, Scottish and USA wheelchair teams in next year’s World Cup.
Sheffield was confirmed among the tournament hosts in last week’s announcement by competition organisers.
Now the Eagles want to ensure that the accolade has a lasting impact in the local area.
The club has held talks with the Sheffield City Council and the RFL on the subject and are also hoping to appoint a development manager to help deliver a tournament legacy.
BATLEY BULLDOGS are continuing to innovate with their weekly virtual half-time draw after passing the five-figure mark for revenue raised.
The total stood at £10,612 from the first ten draws before weekend, with Chairman Kevin Nicholas introducing a new feature on Sunday.
The club marketed entries as tickets for the K2 Stand at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, saying that fans could purchase one to watch the grass grow at the ground in the absence of live sport.
Nicholas said: “We want to show that we can sell out an event even when there aren’t any matches on.”
DEWSBURY RAMS are pushing ahead with plans for a memorial sculpture for former coach and president Jack Addy, after a fundraising page exceeded its target.
The page last week moved past the required £6,500 after a group of former Rams players initiated the move to commemorate Addy.
A Rams statement read: “The club would like to thank everybody who supported and promoted the campaign, whether that be through direct donations or other activities.
“Updates on the next steps for the project will be communicated through official club channels in the weeks ahead.”