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  1. A slightly disturbing choice of metaphor. In addition, the use of a metaphor is more likely to obfuscate than elucidate any point you are trying to make. Might help to say what you really think. Though it won’t help me: I won’t be reading it.
  2. And confirmation bias by yourself, of course. The simple fact of the matter is that Leeds and all other teams would break the rules less often if the expectation of sanctions was higher. No more "debate" with you. You appear to be one of those who needs the last word. Please indulge yourself: I promise not to reply.
  3. You are easily astonished, aren't you? Please consider that their may just occasionally be a tiny element of validity in the opinions of those with whom you disagree. Watched, played, taught, coached RL for decades. I found that coaching from the touchline had little effect: players were a little too busy to listen. I found that when refereeing, the less said, the better: in most walks of life, repeat the same comments over and over again for long enough and it becomes meaningless twaddle. Forum behaviour show that. I watched Leeds v HKR on tv last night with, for once, the sound on. The referee pestered, coached advised, instructed, announced, admonished from before the kick-off and throughout with hardly a pause for breath. It didn’t seem to enhance the flow of play, or stop Leeds with their hands on the ball at the end of the tackle, or moving off the mark when playing the ball. In fact, for all that he said, I saw little modification in behaviour throughout: perhaps he should have said more. At least HKR enhanced the flow with adventurous play and entertaining rugby.
  4. What an astoundingly ridiculous thing to say. Take it to its logical conclusion and see how much sense it makes. The sport has allowed itself to drift into sacrificing far too much in the search of a faster flowing game. If it needs doing, be brave enough to change the laws, not an individual’s interpretation of them.
  5. That would mean ignoring a good swathe of the rules in order to enhance the required spectacle, referees becoming a more vociferous part of the event, outrageous hyperbole from commentators, additional and repeated fixtures to fill up the programme, creative refereeing to manufacture tense finishes. This would all have the potential to impact on the integrity of the sport. Not the profile required for the top level of Rugby league.
  6. Which aspects of the game are leaving these smaller teams behind? Where are the signs of the evolution in the next few years? The quality of Super League? Its national profile? Exposure? Attendances? Income? The sustained success of expansion clubs? For those who believe - and there are some - that the success of the sport depends on providing Leeds with the best possible fixture list, some argument can be made for mergers. For those with a less restricted perspective, each and every club, at any level, which is lost to the game, diminishes a sport which has shrunk seriously - perhaps dangerously - at grass-roots level and above. And perhaps it would be prudent to value the clubs which have fought to maintain an existence, and to work hard to find a format for the sport which doesn't lose a single one of them.
  7. Thank you for the response. When the referee says “stay onside next time, Kev” or the endless equivalents of such, he (or she) is identifying that Kev was offside, and that he chose not to give a penalty because he didn’t want to disturb the flow of the game. It is manipulating the rules for a desired outcome. It may only be me who is disturbed by it, but is there any other sport which is so orchestrated and stage-managed? I once played in a minor game, kindly and generously refereed by Eric Clay who hummed a tune to himself from kick-off to final whistle, and spoke not one word for the entire match. It left an impression which later influenced my own (minor) refereeing and still leaves me disturbed by the necessity for endless badgering by modern refs. The offside by the defending line is an interesting one: according to the laws of the game, the referee should go back 10 metres with the defending line (or less if he is closely monitoring the play-the-ball) If the referee goes back 12 metres with the defending line, how does each player know what allowance he is permitted in front of the referee, without being individually told? And is it really a surprise that spectators who see a full line of defenders in front of the referee become annoyed. But, again, perhaps I’m the only one who believes that “line speed” is a euphemism for a level of offside allowed because the referee does not want to stop the game too many times. Anyway, thank you for the discussion (and the revival of very old memories).
  8. But referees do base their decisions on factors other than the rules. There are vast numbers of rule infringements tolerated every game. Most fans want, expect, demand that the game is stopped as little as possible. Referees do not enforce scrum laws, almost every play-the-ball has off-side by the defence, and every play-the-ball close to the line. Most tackles have some head contact with only a head contact to initiate the tackle being penalised. Hands on the ball at the end of the tackle and ball stealing is a major problem, not usually because the referee gets it wrong, but because the referee chooses to “keep the pace on the game”. We were told a couple of weeks ago that playing the ball on the mark was to be enforced, but there are still teams getting enormous unearned advantage because the referee is reluctant to enforce the laws. Dissent is frequent, and to a large extent, tolerated. We now demand - in the top games, visible to the large audiences - that referees manipulate the laws and orchestrate the game rather than adjudicate, and this they do. They choose when to intervene according to an agenda supplied to them and interpreted by them. Some teams are better than others at judging the level of intervention that the referee chooses. If your team benefits, you are happy with the situation. Referees make very few mistakes: they are obviously the best there are at what they do. But they do choose which of the laws to enforce, and at what stage. That it has reached this situation is odd, and diminishes the sport in some eyes.
  9. The only self-interested, small-minded parochialism to be seen here is by the few Top SL clubs, the ones with the money and power, who wish to create the most lucrative list of opponents for themselves. They will decide the size of Super League, and the composition. This they will do within a couple of years. There will be one selection criterion: do they provide an suitable fixture for Leeds, Wigan and St Helens? The statement which opened this thread is among the first warnings to anyone who thinks they have a chance of moderating the behaviour of those who have now taken charge. Some people believe that this will benefit the sport as a whole, some have serious doubts. In the debate sparked by the opening post, a diatribe on the inadequacies of Featherstone is distraction, diversion, deflection and obfuscation.
  10. How did a discussion about the potential action by seemingly small-minded, selfish, parochial SL members become a rant at the inadequacies of lower league clubs? There’s a suggestion of obfuscation here.
  11. Apologies for using your post as an excuse for my own personal rant.
  12. Attendance is not the only measure for the health of a sport. Possibly the least attractive cup final of all time was 1967, Barrow v Featherstone, an attendance greater than the present grand finals, and a tv audience many times larger than the grand finals. The sport then was regarded by many as the country’s second spectator team sport, had a healthy national profile and a very positive reputation. Tying itself to SKY has very much reduced its exposure, profile and reputation. The sport is not even sure of its name: I have recently been asked if Super League and Rugby League are the same. The hundreds of millions of SKY money, could have been used to consolidate the base of the sport and then expand: instead the game now has only 5 or 6 big teams, with the rest bumping along behind, or in lower leagues struggling to survive. There are fewer grounds “owned” by the sport, far fewer schools involved (tag rugby and similar initiatives are good, but have no lasting effect), far fewer amateur teams and leagues. The teams popping up around the country and the world are tremendously exciting and a great credit to those involved, but their existence has to be sustained, for real progress, with a place for them within a resilient structure, a structure which can only be provided by those with the money, power and profile -Super League - who appear to only look inwards. The game concerns itself with “structure” - franchising, promotion and relegation, which is really a discussion about how to provide the best possible fixture list for Leeds and Wigan, when the real issue is playing numbers, how to make the game attractive and interesting and enjoyable to play, encouraging youngsters to take up the game, providing locations and opportunities to play, and then providing structured pathways for the better players to develop, again a neglected task for those with the the power. An unbalanced and inaccurate perspective on the state of the sport? Probably, but so is a perspective which says that the game has significantly progressed and is healthy because a good crowd watch an end of season game competed for by a small number of clubs.
  13. Just about the perfect statement for discussions of this nature.
  14. This is a pointless intervention into the discussion. The fans and administrators of Wakefield, Salford, Featherstone and Leigh have a good idea of their present position in the hierarchy of rugby league, understand their level of influence, their prospects, and the limitations of their value to the sport. They are fairly certain of where they will be in 10 years time. They do not subscribe to the point of view you have placed on them. It would probably be of value if you examined your own disturbing prejudices before your next contribution.
  15. An excellent article: positive, interesting, entertaining, and well written. Thank you for posting it. I hope it gets seen by lots of people. Please don’t do the “fervent traditionalist” bit. Flatcappers - fans of the smaller clubs understandably worried about their club’s (and the sport’s) survival in difficult conditions - love the spread of the sport, love these fascinating outposts of the game, take the opportunities to watch the game played other than by the big clubs. A large percentage of them will have been involved in their time in attempting to spread the game. They are looking forward to adding this team to the list of other “expansion” teams they have watched.
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