League Express editor MARTYN SADLER wonders about the progress towards a realignment of Super League and the Rugby Football League.
This Wednesday (8th December) the RFL will hold a Council meeting, open to all its members, to discuss a range of issues, which will presumably include the latest on the realignment talks that are intended to bring the Super League organisation back under the RFL banner.
I’m not sure whether the RFL will issue any update on how the plans for realignment are progressing, but it certainly should do, even if there isn’t much to report.
I struggle to believe that the issue is a deeply complicated one.
The game should be run by a central body, which must be the RFL.
But there has to be a new approach to marketing Rugby League and therefore the two sides have to create a unified body – let’s call it Rugby League Marketing Limited – that can sell all Rugby League’s commercial properties in a unified manner.
That means that any investor who wants to come on board with Rugby League in the next few years – and I certainly think that some will be found – will take a stake in the whole game, not just Super League.
The idea that all the investment coming into the game would be concentrated purely on the twelve clubs in Super League was divisive, ill thought out and counter-productive.
I would hope that most people in positions of influence in the game would be able to recognise that fact and make decisions that accord with its reality.
Meanwhile, having seen the new rules on international travel imposed by the government in the last few days, it is surely a great relief that we are now in the Rugby League close-season.
Rugby Union is due to start its European Championship fixtures this weekend and there must be some doubt about whether fixtures involving international travel to France or Italy will go ahead.
Similarly, the United Rugby Championship, which has teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and South Africa, has already had its fixtures involving travel to and from South Africa postponed.
We can only hope that the problem will be much reduced by the time Super League kicks off when St Helens host the Catalans Dragons on 12 February.
Also on Wednesday there will be a meeting of Kirklees Council at Huddersfield Town Hall in the presence of the West Yorkshire Mayor Tracey Brabin.
And one of the issues that will arise, probably in the form of a question from Councillor Peter McBride, is the future of the National Rugby League Museum, which should be at the town’s George Hotel but which some councillors now want to move elsewhere in the town.
A petition on the Change.Org website has so far attracted 2,738 signatures (on Sunday afternoon) to retain the museum at the George.
I hope that Kirklees Council will recognise its responsibility not to backtrack on this important decision.
Yearbook’s vital role
Last week I had a Zoom discussion with Tim Butcher, one of the editors of the Rugby League Yearbook 2021-22.
We embedded the discussion on the Totalrl.com website (see https://www.totalrl.com/league-express-zoomcast-rugby-league-yearbook-editor-tim-butcher-on-the-26th-edition/) and I hope that those who watched the discussion had an enjoyable experience.
Tim and his colleague Danny Spencer have now written the 26th annual edition of the book and the books have a complete record of Super League since the competition began in 1996.
It means that in 100 years’ time, if Rugby League is still around at that time, future Rugby League fans will have the ability to look back and see all the facts they need to know about Rugby League during that period.
And Tim made the point that it would have been incredibly useful if a similar publication had existed since 1895.
If anyone would like to have a crack at writing some retrospective yearbooks for the first 100 years of the RFL’s existence I’m sure we would all love to see them.
Burrow bowled out by Michael Holding
I had been hoping that Rob Burrow’s autobiography, ‘Too Many Reasons to Live’, would win the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, which was decided last Friday.
But unfortunately it didn’t win the final vote.
The winning book was Michael Holding’s book ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise’, about racism in sport.
Holding was one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of cricket and, although I haven’t yet read his book, I’m looking forward to doing so.
It is the sixth cricket-themed book to win this award.
It was a tough book for Rob Burrow’s autobiography to be up against.
Cornwall info ready to roll out
Like most people involved in Rugby League, I have nothing but good wishes for the new Cornwall RLFC, which will make its League 1 debut on 2nd April next year.
And, if you turn to the League 1 news in this newspaper, you will no doubt be as relieved as I am that Cornwall will start announcing members of their inaugural squad this week, according to their commercial director Rob Butland.
It’s not easy for a new club located so far away from the heartlands of Rugby League to put together a squad in the depths of winter that will be able to compete in a few months’ time.
But we do need to hear that the club is at least making some progress along those lines, starting with the appointment of coaching staff.