League Express Mailbag – Monday 31st October

I was hoping to attend the Cook Islands v Tonga match in Middlesbrough, on Sunday 30 Oct but, due to work commitments, I couldn’t be sure if I would be able to attend or not.
However, as the game was to be played outside the heartlands and in a large football stadium, I knew there would not be a massive attendance and there’d be plenty of tickets left.
When I contacted the RFL ticketing office they, too, informed me that tickets would be available on the day, at the Riverside stadium.
But when I later contacted the ticket office at Middlesbrough, they confirmed that tickets would be available on the day but would cost an additional £5, on top of the original ticket price.
I wonder if the RFL practices shooting itself in the foot. They are exceptionally good at it.
How, despite all the criticism that high ticket prices during this cost-of-living crisis would lead to low attendance at World Cup matches, did they think it appropriate to charge an additional £5, for fans who decide at the last minute to attend.
For what possible reason should tickets sold on the day be more expensive? Was there some specific need to have people buying tickets beforehand? If the additional cost was down to pure greed, then it has backfired.
I will not be attending any more. I will watch the games either on TV or online.
Well done by the RFL – yet again!
Bill Riley, Leyburn

Phil Davidge (Mailbag, 24 October) asks why matches involving Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, at this year’s World Cup, were not played in those countries.
I agree with him that those games would have been far better attended had they been played locally, and likewise those games involving France.
However, in order to receive government funding from former chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse fund, all the matches had to be played in England, the majority in the north.
It wasn’t short-sightedness in the Rugby League powers-that-be but rather a fait accompli, courtesy of government.
Michael O’Hare. Northwood, Middlesex

Joe Ogden (Mailbag 24th October ) asks the question, so let me explain.
The BBC has been the mainstay for Rugby League (on both television and radio) for decades and nowhere in my letter did I write anything different. We all appreciate that it is.
What I was trying to get across is as follows:
You are a media company that bids to televise a sporting World Cup (showing every game across the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair games) and you win that bid.
As a business, you then sell those products to your own audience. And although you are in competition with other media outlets, as an organisation you advertise the product you have won, to attract viewers
It is no good to advertise the sport’s premier competition on the Super League show alone.
On the evening of 25th of October 1922 there was no mention on Northwest tonight, of the game to be played on the 28th, between Tonga and Wales, which was played at St Helens.
For God’s sake. Media City is only twenty miles away from the ground.
If Tonga played Wales in the Rugby Union World Cup, anywhere in this region, does anyone think it would not get a mention on the NW tonight, BBC channel?
On Sunday 23rd of October the Rugby League World Cup did not rate a mention on the BBC News at 11:30 am. Football did, and other sports too, which took place on the Saturday.
Joe Ogden needs to wake up a bit.
John Wheeler, Sandbach, Cheshire

I look forward to receiving my League Express through the door every Monday, in far flung Pontypridd.
But the content that elevates this weekly ritual more than anything else, is Richard de la Riviere’s astonishing Rugby League Heroes column.
Last week’s Owen Craigie interview was an extraordinary reminder of what our players put themselves through for our entertainment. A timely reminder of the need for compassion, understanding and support for these young men.
Has Richard considered creating a book from these wonderful interviews?
Jeffrey Baxter, Pontypridd

Congratulations to John Kear on his Wales v Tonga, post-match interview.
He looked livid but still managed to say the right words in a very professional manner, so I can only guess that he was annoyed by the totally one-eyed performance from the referee.
It would be interesting to watch the game again, count how many six-again sets the Tongan team were awarded and compare that to the Welsh team’s none.
One Tongan player made repeated contact with a Wales player’s head in front of both the referee and a touch judge, and nothing was done, and at least two of the Tongan tries came from blatant forward passes.
If we are to have international games, we need officials to match.
Please do not think that I am against women referees. Only a few years ago, while watching my own (then amateur) team, we had a female referee, and she was the best ref we saw all season.
Geoff Wake, Barnsley

It has been fascinating to see a team made up entirely of French-born (or long-term residence) players on the world stage.
The heritage teams idea has been fantastic (and educative with it) but France, with its priceless Treiziste heritage, historic importance, and European geography, is in a different category.
Watching the French team play, at Bolton, to me the next step seemed obvious. That team I saw would survive in Super League, so make the Dragons a wholly French team.
Abandon the Napa, Dudson et al policy. IMG has made a difference now anyway.
There is widespread French unease in Treiziste circles, about the side-lining of Bernard Jullien, and the policy of sending promising youngsters like Cozza and Rouge off to the North of England.
Pursuing Grand Final glory is ‘pie in the sky’ anyway and contributes nothing to the legacy. All it produces is a short-term fuss in Perpignan, as with the Challenge Cup win – and then? Nothing.
We should face facts. Look at Wakefield; a noble community-focused club with the Grand Final totally out of reach. And for Toulouse? The opposite policy. In the short term its aim is to secure Super League status with an influx of overseas stars.
Get League Express correspondent Steve Brady on board (the evangelist for French expansion).
His heritage is Wigan; his mission is France.
The French ‘elite’ is rapidly moving forward, as the French way of life persuades the likes of James Maloney and Corey Norman to stay on.
“There is nothing more powerful in the world than an idea whose time has come.” (Victor Hugo)
As for the women and the wheelchair French. Magnifique!
Dennis Richards OBE, Harrogate

There was a significant clash of heads in the World Cup match between England and France, leading to Kallum Watkins leaving the field for assessment and taking no further part in the game.
In instances such as that one, in which there was a clear clash of heads, and given (quite rightly) recent increased concern over long term brain damage, shouldn’t the other player in any head clash also be subject to an HIA?
Geoff Hardman, Wigan

Having read Martin Sadler’s column in last week’s League Express, I offer a couple of my own thoughts on player welfare.
One: I would like to see the Golden Point removed, except for matches which must be decided on the day they are played. Eighty minutes of two teams knocking hell out of each other in such a physical, high speed, contact sport is enough.
Two: after a score, the scoring team should take the restart, not receive it.
Fairly regularly, a team will concede points after a prolonged period of defence (especially with the six-again rule), and then have to take the restart (which, more often than not, will result in the scoring side regaining possession and able to exert more pressure. This may also result in a reduction of the ‘blow-out’ scores seen in a World Cup.
Both of the above suggestions would reduce player fatigue and thence potential injuries.
Furthermore, I could not agree more with Martyn Sadler, on the recent BBC “Rob Burrow” programme.
My wife and I found it very moving.
When we travel over to Hull for home matches, we usually stop at Junction 32 Retail Centre for a coffee.
On one occasion (it can only be three or four years ago, when Rob was still playing), we saw him whizzing around with one of his children in a pushchair and go into a shop.
It is very difficult to accept that this terrible disease can affect such a fit young man so severely in such a short time.
As Martyn said, the Burrows are an amazingly strong family.
Mike Jacklin, Cheadle Hume

Working as a volunteer at the Rugby League World Cup and thoroughly enjoying it, I am with Pat Benatmane on the lack of pre-match entertainment at the Headingley games.
For example, an Irish dancing group could have been sourced locally, to introduce the Jamaica v Ireland game. And knowing personally a couple of members of the West Indian Carnival group, I am sure they would have provided a marvellous pre-match spectacle.
I hope it will be a bit livelier for the Women’s double header.
David Beston, Leeds

Who does Derek Beaumont (of Leigh) think he is with regard to the overseas quota?
The rules clearly state “seven overseas players” not the eight who are on Leigh’s books.
Why should the rules change to suit one over-inflated, financial ego?
Surely, if a player is registered on one club’s book, he may be loaned out for two weeks without it making any difference on the salary cap.
However, if the additional player is loaned out for a season and paid by the club he is loaned too, that would be different.
I am not a supporter of a Super League club so do not have a grudge to bear, but why should any exception be made, except perhaps as an absolute ‘must,’ and the current need at Leigh is far from an absolute priority.
Ian Haskey, Castleford