RATIONALE FOR NEW RULES
I was interested to read Martyn Sadler’s justification for new rules being adopted in Rugby League (Talking Rugby League, 19 April).
Martyn claims that a new rule can be justified when it “increases the skill level required by a Rugby League player”.
He then suggests that the new ball-stealing rule, whereby a player can steal the ball from an opponent carrying it when one or more team-mates drop off from the tackle, illustrates this principle.
And he makes the same point about two-point drop goals that are kicked from more than 40 metres out in the NRL.
Undeniably there is a lot of skill attached to both these operations but there is also another justification for a new rule. Does it do away with a negative element in the game? That is the rationale for the six-again rule, which is designed to get rid of wrestling in the tackle, thereby speeding the game up.
It certainly appears to achieve that object, but whether it also introduces other negative effects must be open to debate.
The chief negative of the six-again rule is surely that it gives potentially far too much discretion to a referee to reward one side or the other.
For example, I watched an NRL game between Canberra and South Sydney on Thursday that saw Canberra awarded seven six-agains, while Souths were not awarded any. And yet I could see little difference between the approach of either side in the tackle. What we now need is a new rule that will deter head shots, which are unsporting and dangerous.
Perhaps the award of six-again each time a tackler makes contact with the ball-carrier’s head would do the trick.
Bill Rees, Wakefield
It’s a pity Tony Clubb was withdrawn from the action and Andre Savelio did not have the opportunity to banjo Clubb at their next tackle encounter as he had wished. We might have been spared the media circus that has ensued.
All that is missing now is for Tony Clubb to be whisked away to a secret location under police protection and his children to be spirited away by child protection officers, followed by a woman from Islington, who nobody has heard of starting an online petition, supported by the BBC, that Clubb should not be allowed to play Rugby League again for a living.
That’s the crazy world we live in. It seems that society is imploding in accusation and inquiry, rather like the witch finders of the Middle Ages.
The media feed off it but I thought Rugby League was above all this.
Bill Anderson, Parbold, Lancashire
After a long break from rugby due to Covid, with no news of Rugby League, and especially with living in Wales, plus being restricted to a five-mile travelling limit from home, life without our favourite sport has been very hard.
My life took on a new meaning when my own club The Bulls announced live, streamed viewing of every game as part of the annual membership. I was more than happy to pay my money and, due to personal circumstances, it is very doubtful if ever again I would be able to visit Bradford.
The club gave me the number to book in for the games, but all pleasure disappeared as I tried to gain entrance to the viewing site. Three matches have already been played and as yet I have not had one single viewing moment. I have a bizarre feeling that others are going through similar reactions to my own, somehow making it easier to bear.
I have since discovered that it is impossible to get the App to view, if you are attempting to use an Apple computer.
I unfortunately have two, including the Big Mac, I was almost on the site, but was foiled, and since then I have a constant notice stating that my password is wrong. I have since had a gift of the new phone by Apple which was bought as a present so that in happier times I could see the games if away from home.
No one from OurLeague is attempting to contact supporters like myself and, having reached my eighties, these are major problems I could do without.
I see no end to this, but after reading that other supporters like myself are putting up with the same things is it not time they should be dealt with?
Colin Thomson MBE, Bridgend
ADVICE FOR THE BBC
If Covid restrictions are lifted in time for the Rugby League World Cup, we will hopefully be able to celebrate our sport by seeing the best players on the planet and experience a fantastic array of colour, cultures and costumes.
I say ‘hopefully’, for if I were able to buy tickets for each game, I could meet the people, share the love of Rugby League and the lives of fans who will have travelled tens of thousands of miles to be there.
But like the majority, my experience of the events will be largely dependent on the media. So, what will TV give us?
Will we be taken there, will we see a show that replicates experiences of the game that is before us, as if we had bought a ticket? It is doubtful.
What will probably happen is that we will meet ‘a nice young lad’, who knows not a lot about our game, and the same group of ex-players, rambling the same clichés, watching the same tries (scored many times).
The only difference from Sky coverage will be that the games presented by the BBC, won’t be preceded by 15 minutes of some Grand Final that we have all seen dozens of times before.
The Rugby League World Cup is the opportunity to return the sport to those who are really passionate about it – the fans. It is a golden opportunity to build our fan base and expand the game in all its forms.
Recent coverage, from all networks, has missed that opportunity. Ignore the fans and you get what we have now – a handful of people chasing their own tails but making little progress.
Our friends in the round-ball code recently reminded those shadowy oligarchs, who claim to ‘own’ their game, that, in fact, it the game belongs to the fans. Sport was not invented in a board room, it emerged in streets and fields.
One of the greatest rituals of our game, a Rite of Passage for us older ones, is the Challenge Cup Final. So do we see 80,000 fans singing ‘Abide with Me’? Not any more, we have a few seconds of the band, a few more seconds of VIPs and the rest of the hymn is the singer (who very few have ever heard of anyway).
Cut the inane cliché ridden banter and return the cameras to showing the scenes on the terraces, show the shirts of different clubs, all mixed and waved with pride. That tells the unconnected viewers that this game is about people like them – ordinary people. The Challenge Cup lost its lustre. It lost its lustre and the fans stopped going. Don’t blame supporters, blame the media.
The time for a change in TV coverage is here. We cannot afford to let this opportunity slip through our fingers.
In Dave Woods we have the best match commentator in the land. There are some superb commentators on local radio, such as Sharon Shortle, who was brilliant (as usual) beside Dave Woods in the early Challenge Cup rounds – one camera, two people and eighty minutes of expert opinion. Inside knowledge, from Brian Noble adds to the commentary and explains the finer points to those not acquainted with the game.
Finally we need a capable presenter, who knows the game, to front it all. That person can only be Tanya Arnold.
Bryan Smith, Leeds
HASTINGS IS THE MAN
I was delighted to see Bevan French return against Castleford. But man of the match? His first try was a walk-in, and for the second his blistering pace was part of a quartet conducted by maestro Jackson Hastings, with Zak Hardaker coming 30 yards out of defence bouncing off player after player.
Jake Bibby came in off his wing to make another ten yards to give Generalissimo Hastings the chance to see the defence still retreating, and he executed a precise kick into the “deserts of vast eternity” (like Montgomery in North Africa).
Hardaker is in the form of his life, motivated no doubt to win his England place, with tremendous, instinctive vision to see opportunities, while backing up like Shaun Edwards.
Hastings is two or three moves ahead of everyone else, and gets the best out of his colleagues. I think the word that sums up the skill of this quartet is ‘vision’, to instantly see the situation.
They came, they saw, they conquered.
Martin King, Wigan
I have just read pages 30 & 31 of this week’s League Express (26 April) and had to turn to the front page to see if this was the 1st April issue.
At first I would tell the Rugby League bosses to remember 1964 and the RFL riding roughshod over the grassroots of the greatest game. They started a civil war 50 years ago and are hell bent on starting another.
Cannot they remember that BARLA was founded by amateur clubs and leagues standing up for their rights? Is this going to happen again? I think so.
Players, clubs and leagues stand up for their rights and unite against the bullies of the RFL. The winners last time were the amateurs and I am sure that the same result will occur.
I am now too old to get involved again in reforming BARLA, but I feel sure there must be some folk out there who can take on the RFL. May I suggest Phil Hodgson could be a good place to start.
Unfortunately Tom Keaveney, Brian Holwell and others have long ago departed this mortal coil, but surely somebody out there can spring into action to prevent what the RFL is proposing.
Jeff Bunting, Hull
THE FACT OF THE MATTER
I would like to check whether your reporter for the Catalan v Wolves game was watching the same match as I was.
Due the current situation he was obviously not at the game but the Sky coverage was very good but were they showing two separate games? “Maloney picked up a loose ball from a Tom Davies hit on Jake Mamo and scored?”
In fact Maloney picked up a loose ball following a loose pass by Toby King that went to ground and went over for a try unopposed.
“Ben Currie was first to score after a brilliant break by Ratchford?” In fact Ben Currie was the first to score following a brilliant break by Daryl Clark.
The rest of the report wasn’t bad, although you should increase Steve Brady’s expenses to help him get a bigger TV.
Dave Bate, Ripon
Steve Brady replies: “I haven’t seen the TV coverage of the game, so it would be difficult for me to check the validity of these claims. I write my match reports based upon notes I make during the game and, on occasion, I might get the wrong player in the build-up to a try. If this is the case, can I apologise to Mr Bate and promise to focus more intently on such details in future. Mr Bate is incorrect in his assumption that I was not at the game, but he is correct that my remuneration should be increased. I do need a bigger television.”
KICK IN THE TEETH
Sky and Super League have agreed a figure for viewing rights for the next two years. It looks like a kick in the teeth for the lower level teams, as I do not suppose the RFL will do anything but roll over.
I was pleased when Robert Elstone resigned, as I thought that the two bodies would combine and become a stronger force to negotiate better sponsorship deals at all levels.
How wrong could I be?
It is now time for the RFL and the Championship and League 1 to step up to the plate and get a TV deal to help all these clubs.
Ian Haskey, Castleford