League Express Mailbag – Monday 14 February


What a joy it was to watch the Leeds v Warrington match on Channel 4 on Saturday. From start to finish it was a breath of fresh air, with the presenter, Adam Hills, ringing a professionalism to his role so lacking in the current Sky Sports team.

Good contributions from Sam Tomkins, Leon Pryce and Danika Priim, and Helen Skelton doing a brilliant job interviewing players and coaches got us off to a great start, showing up just how boring the Sky presentation has become.

Mark Wilson and Kyle Amor gave us a great commentary, with Kyle giving us real insight from a player’s perspective. Much the opposite of Sky, where they talk about everything apart from the game we are watching.

A great start from Channel 4, long may it continue.

Ronald Peyton, Batley



Channel 4’s opening game, Leeds v Warrington was first class. Ten out of ten; the game had everything, including a red card and a yellow card for each team.

I am a Warrington season-ticket holder, but the Wolves got out of jail, I thought, as Leeds were the better team.

The two match commentators were first class. Adam Hills was the right choice as a presenter, with  Sam Tomkins and Leon Price doing well. I think, by the way,that Leon meant to say ‘rollicking’. A slip of the tongue, perhaps?  I shall certainly be watching this week’s game between Hull and St Helens.

Peter Peers, Warrington



Rhinos v Wolves was a cracking game, although the Wolves were not great and did not help themselves – over-playing at times and making a lot of mistakes.

All the cards were correct, I thought. The last try by Warrington might have come off a slightly forward pass but – let’s be honest -, over the years Leeds have had their fair share.

However, the Rhinos’ fans must be the biggest moaners in any sport. Trophy hunters a lot of them, not real Rugby fans.

To also mention the Catalan Dragons and the style of their forwards, they are way over the top and will hurt someone seriously one day, as they too often overstep the physical line.

Dylan Napa’s tackle was very nasty; he should get a long ban.

Deryck Thorp, Rothwell, Leeds



After watching Leeds v Warrington and also the Sky matches Thursday and Friday, I thought Phil Clarke must have been dropped by Sky, as Jon Wilkin and Jamie Jones-Buchanan were in the studio.

I have always thought JJB’s voice unsuitable for commentating though his knowledge is excellent

Then on Friday we saw Clarke back for a Wigan game. How neutral is that?

Bill Arthur is worse than ever; his commentary is at least two passes behind and he is still getting players wrong.

And the interviewing of coaching staff during games also caused problems. The sound quality does nothing to improve the coverage. Having JJB on the touchline also did not help as his words were drowned somewhat

On Channel 4, however, Mark Wilson proved to be a good start. Sky should rethink the way their games are covered.

I am looking forward to next week’s Channel 4 match to see if they can continue their exciting commentary

Jeff Bunting, Hull



I would like to thank Sky for giving us a free game on Thursday night (Saints and Catalans).

Thanks are due, because they have saved me a few quid this season as, after watching that match I have decided not to sign up for this season’s games on Sky.

Why? Because in that ground, Brian Carney still has to shout over the tannoy.

Surely there must be a room somewhere that is away from the blaring music and announcements.  By the time the game started my ears were ringing.

New additions Jon Wilkin and Jamie Jones-Buchanan bring nothing of quality to the presentation.

Wilkin hasn’t a good word for anyone but Saints, being quick to write off all other teams; JJB is so hard to understand I doubt whether anyone south of Sheffield can take in what he has to say; and both of them seem to think the letter T has been banished from the English language.

Barry and Terry too, have just picked up where they left off last season, contributing nothing to the viewers pleasure, so thank you Sky for saving me a few quid.

Ian Oates, Wakefield



I had to laugh at Steve McNamara’s comments about the young French players they have ready and raring to go; I have been reading those same comments for several years now.

It was therefore no surprise when, on looking at the line-up for the Catalans’ latest game against St Helens, only two of the starting 13 were French.

In contrast, eight of the 13 starting for St Helens had come through the club’s own Academy

At the end of last season, due to salary cap retrictions, St Helens had to let go both Lachlan Coote and Theo Fages, and quite rightly promoted Jack Welsby and Lewis Dodd to their places.

You would have expected a great talent like Arthur Mourgue, at Catalans Dragons, to get his chance by taking over  from the departing James Maloney but in typical Catalan fashion they have spent a  f fortune on Mitchell Pearce instead.

The Catalans have now been in Super League since 2006.

One of the reasons for them being selected to join Super League was that they would give England meaningful and intense games in the northern hemisphere,to prepare our players for end of season Test encounters with the southern hemisphere sides.

Scores in the last 15 years (56-6, 66-12, 60-6, 84-4) and the 2018 Test result 44-6 suggests we are in no way nearer to that.

One of your publications recently featured the Perpignan player’s agent, Graeme Taylor, bemoaning the fact that – under new Brexit rules- young French players are not being allowed the chance to play in England.

Setting aside a bit of self-interest on his part, however, for the good of the French game Mr Taylor’s best endeavours should be focussed on trying to get young French players into the two French Super League teams.

Wasn’t that the idea behind having French teams enter the league in the first place?

I am all for expansion; I wish the Toronto project had been given longer.

It would have been interesting to see if, after the same 15 years in Super League as the Catalans have had, they could have mustered three Canadians into their team.

Darren Bridge, Wigan



As a Saints fan residing in Canada, having emigrated from St Helens in 1981, I watch Rugby League regularly the Sports Network over here. I also subscribe to the League Express digital edition which is a very enjoyable and informative publication.

I enjoy reading all the articles and the Mailbag page has some great letters published.

I do have a couple of suggestions, however, and would be interested to read the thoughts of other supporters on the following idea concerning yellow or red cards issued to players.

First: I have noticed that, when a side has received a yellow or red card and a subsequent scrum is called, the penalised team is not obliged to maintain six players in the scrum but pulls one player out to man the back line.

Since the scrums are basically uncontested, the non-penalised team cannot then make the best of their numerical advantage in the back line.

I therefore suggest that the scrum rule be modified to state that there must be six players, or an equal number of players from each side, in the scrum at all times.

Second: Rugby League should add awarding bonus points, as does Rugby Union. That is, if a losing team finishes seven points or closer (say six points for Rugby League) behind the winning team, the losing team is awarded a bonus point.

If the winning or losing team score four tries or more during a game then a bonus point is also awarded.

Incorporating one or both of these suggestions would add to a more open game, and offer something to gain for both the winning and losing teams.

John Smith, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada



Whilst mostly agreeing with David Hinchliffe (Mailbag 7th February), I was left with the impression that he recommends our distancing ourselves from the recently announced royal patronage changes.

I think a more pragmatic approach should be the way forward. The current under-40 royals differ much from their predecessors, and whether you like them or not, they offer a ‘gold seal’ opportunity to raise the game’s profile with a wider audience.

The World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace gave testament to that

Or should we have conducted the draw at Congress House, and invited Jeremy Corbyn or Red Ken to pull the balls out of the bag?

Simon Rimmer, Carnforth(Lancs.)



Having received my 7th February League Express, I wondered whether you are helping to save the planet, or is the absence of staples holding the pages togeter a cost-cutting measure?

For us (your elderly readers) it is frustrating when pages keep sliding out while we are trying to read the paper.

Roger Dicks, Bristol

Editor’s note: There was a technical problem in printing last week’s League Express, which meant that the pages weren’t stapled, but that problem should have been resolved this week.



I worry about Rugby League’s survival in this country.

The product – as witnessed by the Saints v Catalans first game of the new season – , can be amazing, and as entertainment leaves the Union game languishing behind.

Season after season, however, I hope for improvement in control of games by the officials and am  continually let down.

Officials are constantly inconsistent, appear to have little understanding of what is going on at ‘play-the-ball’ and ‘offside’ plays, leaving supporters totally frustrated at times.

For me, the standard of game control in Australia is vastly superior. Their referees and touch judges understand the nuances of the game a lot better and their players stick to the rules.

I have played the game at amateur level (a long time ago but I have a good memory) and I have refereed junior games, so I fully appreciate the job that referees have at Super League standard.

I don’t expect the referee both to watch the ‘play-the-ball’ and to check the defensive line at the same time. That is impossible. So let the referee go to 10 metres and have responsibility for controlling ‘play-the-ball’ and let the touch judges control the 10-metre rule. (Players not encroaching until the ball is played, that is.)

If players encroach, the touch judge should advise the referee and a penalty should be awarded.

All we need is to set the trend. It might create aggravation initially but would, we hope, create more consistent control of games.

David Johnson, Ashton in Makerfield