Friendlies firing up again, at last!

There’s a beautiful sight to behold in the amateur pages of this week’s Rugby Leaguer & League Express.

No, I’m not referring to the photo of yours truly that besmirches this column (well, maybe I am a bit – then again, maybe my eyesight’s starting to fade a little these days…)

What I’m actually alluding to is, joy of joys, the list of fixtures scheduled to take place next weekend.

It was back in March when readers were last treated to information as to games they would be playing in, coaching at, organising or simply watching.

It’s uplifting to be able to detail forthcoming matches again.

Fixtures (all of them friendlies of course, and all subject to possible alteration by the RFL as yet more clubs seek games) shown today don’t include ‘pilot’ matches at Open Age, which have yet to be announced. The RFL is, understandably, taking a much more tentative approach to the return of the adult game, largely because players habitually stay back afterwards for a pint or two (the necessary approach on this, again understandably, is that they should now go home, get changed and showered, and return – we’ll see how that eventually goes).

The main thing for the moment, however, is that matches are again set to take place. They will do so against a background of highly detailed precautionary advice and instructions by the RFL. If anything does go wrong it’ll be difficult for the finger of blame to be pointed at Red Hall bosses, who seem to have covered every possible angle, in that regard anyway.

Meanwhile, clubs that are taking to the field will be eligible for grants of up to £3,000 from Sport England, via the RFL, which is wonderful news.

Less thrilling was a missive I received on Saturday from Nick Norfolk, the administrator at Leeds outfit Stanningley. He lamented: “I don’t know if any other club has been in contact with you regarding Sky Sports coverage of recent Super League games.

“We pay for Sky sports through a Rugby League package deal which costs us £300 per month. With this package, we get limited channels.

“In recent weeks a lot of the Super League games have been on Sky Sports Mix, which is not included in the package!

“We are struggling to get people into the club at the moment, last night we had about 15 people leave to go elsewhere because we could not show the live games.

“It has come to the point where it is not viable to pay for Sky, it leaves us in a position where we as a Rugby League club may not be able to show Rugby League games!”

He closed: “I e-mailed the RFL about this situation last month and have not yet received a reply. We are in a situation where we are paying money out for a service we are not receiving, and then there’s a double whammy of losing bar sales which, in the current situation, we can ill afford.”

Let’s hope that either the RFL or Sky can come up with an explanation – or, even better, a solution.
Finally, I was saddened to learn last week of the death of Bob Colgrave, who was a real giant of the amateur scene in Hull.

Bob was famously the captain of the first BARLA Great Britain tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea back in the late 1970s.

Like so many people who enjoy successful careers in sport, Bob’s arose partly through chance (Mal Reilly, who famously missed the bus for Kippax soccer team’s away match one afternoon and turned out for the Rugby League side instead, is a case in point).

Signed by the soccer club Hull City, Bob didn’t seem to have been treated with quite the respect any player deserves in the reserves and, possibly in a fit of pique, turned out for Fenners (the oldest amateur Rugby League club in the city as it happens) instead.

Soccer’s loss was Rugby League’s gain. Bob Colgrave gave our sport tremendous service, on and off the field. He will be sadly missed; my commiserations are extended to his family and friends.

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