League Express Mailbag – Monday 26th April


Blue and amber v cherry and white!

That’s how it always was. Colours, contrast and spectacle! That’s before they even kicked off.

The recent colour clash fiasco in the Leeds v Wigan game was not another mistake, aberration or cock up, the likes of which have plagued Super League for many years. The decision that Leeds and Wigan would each wear blue socks, blue shorts and primarily blue jerseys was a deliberate two fingers to the fans.

I am surprised the referee allowed it; he has the power to stop it. I am surprised Sky Sports did not step in because they must surely have a say, and I am surprised Gary Hetherington, who is usually the voice of reason, allowed it.

I am not that surprised Super League did nothing because, as a governing organisation, it does not exist.

It’s about time the fans told the clubs to stick their re-brandings where the sun doesn’t shine if this is the sort of damage the clubs are prepared to do to the game simply to sell a few more away jerseys.

Supporters should refuse to put a penny into the clubs, via either merchandising sales or match tickets, until the clubs admit their folly, stop doing it and apologise.

Bill Anderson, Parbold, Lancashire



Some sections of the press have, rightly, hailed Ben Crooks’ try after seven seconds as the fastest in professional Rugby League history.

However, whilst an undeniable world record, it was not, “The first in any professional match to be scored in single digit figures”, as claimed in ‘Hull Live’, which appears to be part of an amalgam of Hull Daily Mail and other northern regional papers.

On October 6 1992, in a Yorkshire Cup semi-final tie at Sheffield Eagles (Don Valley), Lee Jackson touched down in a time recorded as nine seconds and that, I believe, was entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

I was at Sheffield that night and was amazed by it. Garry Jack, the Eagles’ fullback, tried to return Hull’s kick-off but Jackson charged it down and followed up to touch down. Unfortunately, that was Hull’s only success that night as we went down 8-12. Although it was only October, it was a really cold night. Such is life at an athletics stadium.

Hull Live went on to claim that Tim Jonkers’ try after 14 seconds on 19 May 2002 was the fastest in Super League history. The crowd at the Saints v Wakefield game had time to make a cuppa by the time Jonkers scored. Indeed, Crooks had time to score another by the time Jonkers got there.

So, please, is it a forlorn hope that all of the media will accept that this great game of Rugby League existed for a full century before Super League was invented?

There were many records set in that opening century that will never be surpassed in the Super League era.

Bill Dalton, Hull



Well done Shaun Wane who has said he will take a warm up game to Rochdale prior to the World Cup later this year.

England v Fiji at Rochdale gives the locals chance to see some of the game’s best players performing and World Cup places up for grabs.

It will no doubt be a competitive game, and with plenty of Fijian ex-pats living in the area, they too will boost the gate as hopefully we can all return to grounds by then.

It is a great idea to move England games around the country and to the heartlands of our game, so here’s to England success in the World Cup.

On a different note, is anybody missing scrums? I ask this because, personally, I hope they don’t bring them back into the game once things settle down.

I didn’t think much of our scrums anyway, and the current situation certainly sees the ball in play more and made the game quicker as well.

This is a big year for our game with the World Cup being held here, and the Super League players have this season to impress the England coach and try and get a place in the squad for the tournament. The players from other nations who play over here also have a chance to impress their respective countries.

Before that though, let’s concentrate on the club game and enjoy some excellent Rugby League.

Colin Wickham, Ashton Under Lyne



As the death toll from the Covid-19 virus goes over three million worldwide and as a new strain from India is now in our country, why are we continuing to allow French clubs in our competitions?

How can Super League and the RFL put our players at risk by allowing travel to and from France, when so many people have been vaccinated in Great Britain but the numbers are so much lower in the European Union?

Our governing body needs to show leadership and protect our players and spectators from the risk of the virus being imported from France.

Mike Leeming, Blackpool



After watching Leeds v Wigan on TV I would just like to make a comment about referee Chris Kendall.

He penalised Alex Mellor for not playing the ball. I know that by the letter of the law he was correct but come on, Chris, use some common sense; he was totally cramped up.

And for the game between Hull KR and Huddersfield, Chris Kendall was the video referee. Some of his decisions were also ludicrous, especially when disallowing Kane Linnett’s try.

Reg Jackson, Hull



What a very poor decision by Ben Thaler to send off Zane Tetevano in the game against St Helens.

It should have been a yellow card. And it was an even worse decision by the disciplinary committee to suspend him for the games he will miss.

There are far worse tackles that go completely unpunished.

I agree that players are often targeted, but spectators are often baffled by referees’ interpretation of the high tackle.

John Barker, Mirfield



Can anyone advise me of the postal address of any mail order Rugby League club programme dealer?

I have no net access.

Robert Williams, Kilmarnock



Super League was mentioned all over the world media last week, but sadly not the Rugby League version. In fact there are so many ‘Super Leagues’ now in sport that the Rugby League version is in danger of becoming invisible.

Maybe it’s time for a change of branding?

Brian Lund, Nottingham



When I picked up my copy of League Express on Monday, April 12, I looked at the front cover and my spirits soared.

There, in bold print, was the headline “McDermott ponders his future”.

At last, I thought, he has taken the hint and he is moving to somewhere where his talent for verbal verbosity might be appreciated. Hopefully somewhere away from sports that I enjoy watching.

It was only on opening the paper that my spirits were dashed. There you were talking about Brian, not Barrie.

Please League Express, be a bit more thoughtful about your readers’ feelings when planning your front cover.

Bill Tetlow, Bedale



In ‘League Express’ on April 12, we are given a full, one-sided story of the Toulouse v London Broncos cancelled game. It was in no way balanced at all.

I blame The RFL. Once again they seem to rush to make a judgement. I would like to know if any consideration was given to the current Covid-19 situation in France and how our capital city is working so hard to reduce cases?

Why was it ever decided that it was unfair on part-time Championship clubs to travel to Toulouse, due to having to isolate on returning home? How many Championship clubs never travelled to Toronto to play? The full round trip for that must have been as long as isolating after returning from Toulouse.

As if out of a rabbit’s hat someone at RFL HQ thought they would just send London. They are full time. Then, for even more insult, they choose to award Toulouse the game when London raised questions. Is that a level playing field?

We need a complete new structure for the RFL, and quickly, if we are even to survive as we are now.

In fact, pity help us if Super League decide to allow The RFL to run the full game again.

It’s not too late for the RFL to admit they got this wrong!

John Sheffield, Newton-le-Willows



You recently published my letter praising Tanya Arnold and the BBC for their coverage of Super League in their highlights show.

Sadly, I must now reconsider my praise after the BBC’s appalling presentation of the Challenge Cup games.

My praise for Tanya Arnold remains, but unfortunately the BBC’s Sports Department appears to prefer a soccer presenter whose knowledge of Rugby League seems limited. Tanya is reduced to a supporting role on the touchline.

Even worse, the Great Britain coach Shaun Wane was the guest for the occasion, and this could have been a wonderful opportunity to discuss the forthcoming World Cup. But unbelievably he was subjected to inane questions that were so bizarre as to be embarrassing. What a waste!

Worse was still to come. The draw for the next round of the Cup was carried out in a manner that would certainly not have been acceptable to the Football Association. It was turned into a comedy scene by the presenter and a pundit who, quite frankly, should have known better. Their laughing and joking did nothing to enhance Rugby League.

This year is World Cup year and BBC coverage will be transmitted across the globe. Let us hope that uninformed presenters are not used. Leave it to those who know what they are talking about!

Jack Miller, Golborne



Congratulations to Hull FC and Warrington.

After listening to the match, as a Hull KR supporter, it sounded like a draw was a fair result.

I sometimes wonder whether, if two teams are drawing after 80 minutes, can they not stick two fingers up to the RFL and agree to play out for a draw.

Just because the Aussies do it, it doesn’t mean we have to follow

Brian Hodgson, Hull



Am I the only viewer that finds the transformation of our game disturbing?

Tackles have transformed into vertical wrestling matches, usually three onto one, which changes again when the one is finally deposited onto the floor into something akin to a rugby union ruck, but with hands on the ball allowed.

I have mentioned before that this situation unnecessarily places great strain on the knee joints. Just look at the injury lists!

The tackle is rarely deemed ‘completed’ until those without the ball have had a roll around atop the ball holder, or a static rest break. The referee indicates when they have had long enough. Other players seem free these days to flop onto the tackle at any time, rather than being penalised.

I guess that this is a device to make up for the time that should be taken with scrums, but it is making a fast game into a slow bore. Of course there is excitement of a sort when someone manages to reef the ball from the tackled player, but that hardly sets the pulses racing. It’s much better to have a quick play-the-ball to get on with the game.

I note that Martyn Sadler considers this to be a skilful operation (Talking Rugby League, 19 April) and maybe it is. However, throwing a pass so that it doesn’t go forward is pretty skilful and often deceives the referee. That involves only one player, so are we sure that the man with the whistle can watch three individuals at once and get it right?

Whilst these laws in essence apply in the NRL, their lying–on time is notably shorter.

The World Cup could see a few differing referee decisions!

Glyn Smith, Runcorn



I’m sad to see the news that Jackson Hastings is leaving Super League at the end of the season.

In the time he was at Salford he was brilliant. He never gave less than 100 percent effort and he was a massive influence on the rest of the team. I can’t remember him having a bad game for us.

I am sure all Salford fans will wish him well for the future.

Brian Shaw, Salford



When are the officials going to show authority on the field of play on high tackles, swinging arms, a third man coming into the tackle into the ribs and kidney areas and late hits on a player kicking the ball?

Okay, some of these offences are recognised and are consequently punished, but by the same token, a heck of a lot of such offences are either overlooked or completely missed.

We all accept that our game is played in a rough and tough environment, but in my opinion such offences are just needless violence and require strong onfield monitoring.

Bob Crowther, Crigglestone



                Lee Gaskell came on for the second half for Huddersfield against Hull KR and made a huge difference to a team that was struggling in the first half.

However, the way he threw himself to the ground after the slightest of contact with Shaun Kenny-Dowall was disgraceful. If referees are going to defend this sort of behaviour then the game we all love is finished.

We might as well switch to watching football and see the real diving experts at work.

David Thomas, Seascale, Cumbria