Coventry Bears forward Ryan Langton admits he didn’t have to try too hard to convince his team-mates to join him in a cycling challenge that is due to take place in September.
Current Bears players will be cycling the 150-mile route from Hull to Coventry as a way of raising funds to help promote the club and the game in their local community.
“A lot of the guys haven’t done anything like this before so it will be a good challenge for us all,” said Langton.
“They were all really up for it from the start, but I think they were also just up for getting back together as a group, as we haven’t really seen each other since March.
“This might be the only thing we do now as a group now before we get back into pre-season, so the social side of it was a big thing.
“It gives us all something to work towards and gives us all another reason to keep training. Then, once we’ve done it, pre-season will only be a few weeks away, so it helps prepare us for that as well.
“It’s going to be a tough journey, but we’re all fit and relatively young, so we’re up for the challenge. Our physio is coming along too to make sure we all look after ourselves.”
Langton, who is also part of the community team at Hull FC, knows how important it is to have the local residents behind the Bears. He believes the extra funds raised from the challenge will go a long way to making the club a recognised brand in the city.
“I and a couple of the other lads from Hull had an idea to do something like this when we first signed for Coventry,” continued Langton.
“Where we are from is a hotbed for Rugby League and we’d like to help Coventry grow in that aspect too.
“My job at Hull FC is promoting the game as much as I can and increasing participation, so any way that we can help do the same for Coventry and the south of England is great.
“There is an appetite for the game in Coventry and it can definitely grow there, but we really need to push it a lot more in the city and create more of a buzz and get the kids interested.
“Having Australia playing here in the UK is a huge coup for the city, so if we can start building up towards that now and get people interested in coming to see them and the game it could be huge.
“If we can get coaches and community teams to go into more schools in Coventry and get the kids down to our games and meeting the players, it will build an appetite for and interest in what we’re doing.
“But all that takes money, especially with the situation now. We’ll need extra equipment because we’ll not want to use communal equipment and we’ll need extra coaches, so the same ones aren’t going in and out of numerous different schools. We also want to help community clubs buy their own equipment to aid their own development, so hopefully this challenge can help towards all that.”
To support the challenge visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/city-of-culture-hull-to-coventry-bike-ride
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove has admitted one of the hardest aspects of lockdown has been ensuring his players stay healthy mentally.
While the players have all been looking after themselves physically, Lovegrove knows the strain the Coronavirus pandemic has placed on everyone. So he has paid special attention to making sure his players’ mental health is a top concern.
“For a lot of our guys, working-class citizens, they have relied on Rugby League for their entire lives and it’s a big part of them,” said Lovegrove.
“Some of them have been really struggling without the game, so that has been an interesting and tough challenge for me.
“During a season, when we have the game, you think about the physical health of the players and their bodies. But over the last few months we’ve had to make sure their mental health is okay as well.
“I’ve had a few calls for some of the lads just wondering what to do. It’s sounds daft but it’s an interesting conversation to have with a young man that just wants a bit of direction on what to do in this sort of situation.
“It’s outside the box and no one has really been in this situation before, so it’s tough.
“It’s a unique situation for us all, so it has been hard for me, from not knowing what to say to being able to give them the guidance they’ve needed.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS chief executive Peter Tiffin has confirmed that the club’s coach Aaron Wood has agreed a new deal that will see him take charge again in 2021.
Wood arrived in Llanelli last December and took charge of just three games before the season was halted because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
He will now get chance to continue to develop the club once the games return next year.
“Aaron joined us on a one-year deal last year, but with everything that has gone on this season and only playing three games, the board has decided to give him the opportunity to stay on,” said Tiffin.
“He is more than happy to do that, so he has committed himself to the club. He’s bought into the lifestyle here and he’s enjoying it more than we expected him to.
“Aaron and his staff are already looking at recruiting and planning for next season.
“They are being very thorough in what they are doing, so it’s an exciting time for us on and off the field.
“We now just need to put the jigsaw together to make this as good on the pitch as it is off it.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has said he will now be thinking outside the box when it comes to planning for a return to training later this year.
With the club having decided not to enter autumn’s 125th Anniversary Cup, Thorman will not see his squad back together until the start of pre-season and he knows that extra work will have to be done over the winter to get his players ready to play.
“When we get back into pre-season the boys won’t have played for a very long time, so I’m looking at ways we can restructure pre-season to allow for that,” said Thorman.
“The new rule changes will also impact on how we train ahead of the new season, because we’ll need to run different drills implemented by the six-again rule, and with no scrums things will be different too.
“There is a lot to consider before pre-season and these are certainly interesting times.
“I think we’ll probably play more friendlies and a brainstorming session last week came up with the idea of a Cumbria tournament in pre-season, where we play Whitehaven and Barrow home and away. But that’s just some ideas we are considering at this stage.
“But whatever we do has to be right for the club and have the least amount of financial impact, because we still don’t know what will be happening next year in terms of crowds and other details.
“So until we know for sure what impact this year will still be having on next season, we have to remain cautious.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS hooker Sean Penkywicz has admitted that having a chance to play one more game across the Atlantic was another reason he chose to stay with the club in 2021.
The 38 year-old, who made 13 appearances for Toronto Wolfpack in 2017, put pen to paper on a new deal last month and is already looking forward to another trip to Canada.
“I want to make some memories in my final year and I now have an away trip to Ottawa to look forward to,” said Penkywicz.
“That was a factor in me re-signing. As soon as the contract talks started I was reminded that Ottawa would be in the league next year.
“Having been with Toronto I know how good it is to play out in Canada. I know I won’t be on the home side when we go there, but it will be a great experience playing in Canada again.”
Meanwhile Luke Fowden has become the latest member of the club to re-sign for 2021.
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said the decision to pull out of the Challenge Cup was not taken lightly, but the directors had to do what was right for the club and their players.
Thunder were due to face Toronto in the sixth round, but with the Wolfpack withdrawing from all competitions in 2020, Newcastle faced the prospect of a bye straight to the quarter-final and a big tie against Super League opposition.
“There were various obstacles that made staying in the Challenge Cup too difficult to do,” explained Finnigan.
“Cost is a big one. A lot would have had to be done to get our facilities up to where they needed to be, and perhaps we could have done that.
“But there were a lot of reasons connected to the players as well. How do we bring them back in and get them ready to play Super League opposition in such a short turnaround, when the Super League club has already had five or six games behind them.
“It was a very tough decision and one that we didn’t immediately make.
“We tried every way possible to look into it and make it happen, but it just wasn’t possible.
“There are too many risks involved, so it just didn’t make sense.
“We would have been a very unwise to put ourselves in that position.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey hopes that enough clubs sign up to the RFL’s autumn competition so that the club can give something back to their loyal supporters this year.
The club may no longer be able to push for promotion back to the Championship, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to get out on the field and entertain the local community.
“With no promotion and relegation these games probably will be more or less meaningless,” admitted Crarey.
“I know some clubs aren’t going to take part, so is it going to be worth it?
“It would have been far better, I think, to have a shortened league competition with promotion and relegation on offer, rather than a Cup competition that realistically only a few clubs can win.
“But we want to try to keep Rugby League going in Barrow, so we definitely want to go into it if we can.
“It’s not just about the club and the players; it’s about the fans and the sponsors as well. They are the ones that keep the club going, so we’d like to give them something back this year and that will be with some games.”
HUNSLET have confirmed that they will not be participating in the Cup competition being introduced by the RFL later this year.
“The long term sustainability of the club is of paramount importance,” said Chairman Ken Sykes in a statement.
“The simple fact is that it would not be financially viable for us to participate, owing largely to the costs of testing, together with the impact of having to take our players out of furlough to allow them to return to training.
“Additionally, there are other hurdles to overcome in order to meet the demands of Public Health England around a safe return to training and playing games in front of socially distanced crowds. We are in early dialogue with Leeds City Council to assess how we can best work together to safely overcome those hurdles, should the position not ease by the start of the 2021 season.
“I can assure you that this decision has not been taken lightly, but we firmly believe it’s the right one for the club.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the RFL for their continued hard work in securing the future of the game and their open and consultative approach on participation in the competition.
“Player retention and recruitment for 2021 will be commencing shortly, so watch out for announcements as the squad develops and I hope to see you all safe and well at South Leeds Stadium in the New Year.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall has said the club will formally announce its decision on its possible participation in the 125th Anniversary Cup this week.
“We’ve not made our decision yet,” said Hall.
“We have a fans’ panel meeting this week and we want to include them in all of our decision-making, so we’ll present them with the facts and see what they think.
“With the expense of testing and related costs we’ll probably not be involved, but we’ll see what happens.
“Everyone wants to get back playing, but in every decision the club has to come first and I cannot put it at any risk.
“We’ve also got to consider the physical wellbeing of the players. In the NRL we have seen a lot of lower body injuries after the restart, so we could end up landing ourselves with medical bills as well.
“We will look at everything and more than likely make our decision on Thursday after the meeting.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has said he will let his players have a bit of down time now before they start preparing for their return to action.
The club has yet to formally announce its decision about the 125th Anniversary Cup in the autumn, but as with most clubs at this level, the Skolars could be priced out of taking part, meaning the players are unlikely to be back with the club until the start of pre-season for 2021 starts.
“The majority of players have full-time jobs as well, so they generally won’t get the summer off anyway,” said Coleman.
“But we’ll be telling them now to take two or three weeks to themselves, enjoy themselves and don’t feel the need to keep overly training, as they have been away from the club for the last few months.
“We’ll then get some information out to them at the end of the month about getting themselves into some kind of shape in time for coming back into pre-season.”
OTTAWA ACES, who will join the League 1 competition next season, have started their recruitment drive with French international Louis Jouffret named as the club’s first ever signing.
While Jouffret has been confirmed, further names keep being linked with the Trans-Atlantic club.
Totalrl.com last week reported that London Broncos playmaker Matty Fozard is close to agreeing a move to the club.
It would be a huge coup for the Aces, as Fozard was a regular in the Broncos’ Super League side last year, making 23 appearances and scoring three tries.
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