RFL’s UNDERHAND METHODS
A four-page open letter has been circulated by Sandy Lindsay, a director of the RFL and Chair of the Community Board, in support of the RFL’s proposal to make an annual charge to all amateur Rugby League players, including children.
The letter is full of contentious statements, with one stating categorically that as regards the RFL’s financial position, “We certainly do not have a deficit,” which is blatantly not correct.
The open letter does not show any contact details, however, and therefore I would like to respond through your Mailbag pages.
The open letter indicates that the RFL does not have a deficit but the RFL’s financial accounts for the year ended 31st December 2019 clearly show on the balance sheet a very substantial accumulated deficit of £3,243,009.
I have not yet been able to obtain the accounts for the year ended 31st December 2020, but do not anticipate that there will have been much improvement, if any.
The RFL side-lined BARLA apparently at the behest of Sport England and yet Super League Limited was formed and subsequently there has been a complete duplication of all the operating costs, from directors’ remuneration and salaries through to printing and stationery, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds each year being spent unnecessarily.
They have also compounded this by distributing excessive amounts to the professional clubs and have, because of this, in my opinion, created the deficit described above.
Now the RFL wants the amateurs to cover the deficit. Is this fair?
This should not happen without full meaningful discussions taking place in order that all the alternatives that are available are taken into account.
All of the grassroots clubs should be involved and all the amateur leagues.
The underhand way in which these charges have been put forward is nothing short of disgraceful and reflects very badly on the RFL and all concerned in trying to implement the charges.
Terry Everson, Chairman, West Hull ARLFC
EVE OF DESTRUCTION?
In 2004, the RFL published its strategy document for the evolution of Super League through the period 2005 to 2008.
I have just pulled it out again and, re-reading it, I am reminded just what an excellent document it was.
You may not have agreed with its ultimate conclusions, but there’s no gainsaying that it was short, lucid and mercifully short on jargon. More important still, it must have been well advertised, else why would I have known to get hold of a copy at all?
Moving forward to the recent announcement of the RFL’s plans for Academy rugby, for me, at least, this came out of the blue.
I suggest the recommendations make little sense. They look to lie somewhere between the divisive and the destructive. We’ve been though the rejection of reserve-grade football, the comedy of dual-registration and now this.
Maybe somewhere there’s a current strategy document that would make all things clear and to which I could subscribe. If so, it is being kept well out of my sight.
But let’s go back to the 2004 document, section 9.7.
“The Academy concept is well established and it must be compulsory for Super League clubs to compete in both Academy competitions. It is it not acceptable for clubs to continue to survive in Super League by year-on-year relying upon young players discarded by those clubs with productive Academy set-ups.”
Straight forward common sense! But that was back then.
I cannot quite put my fingers on the moment when I realised that the RFL had descended into crass amateurism. But what I can fix, with exactitude, is the point in time when I realised that, for the want of sympathetic, professional leadership, the game on which I was brought up was destined for extinction.
That point is now and whether I have the strength of character to watch this tragedy through to its bitter end, remains to be seen. But I doubt it.
Clive McDonald, Malpas
It’s rare for me to agree with anything Martyn Sadler writes, but in the case of denying Academy licences to certain clubs I can only heartily concur.
Who are these strange people at the top of the domestic game who deny a Super League club (or indeed any professional club) the right to develop talented young players? Is everyone at the top of our game insane?
In a sport that always seems to be teetering on the brink of extinction, in tandem with a very narrow player base, do we really wish to impose such sanctions on clubs hardly awash with money but looking to find nuggets that will either represent their home town or command a decent signing-on fee from one of the big guns?
As with many supporters of Rugby League, over the years I have found the antics of the movers and shakers at the top of the game bemusing, amusing, and sometimes hilariously inept.
So, we want to expand the horizons of the game and its spectator base? Tell you what lads, get rid of Toronto. You can’t get there on a charabanc and I’ll bet the pies are rubbish. That’s just another example of the strategic thinking that has marooned Rugby League in the backwaters of professional sport.
I note that women’s football commands more column inches and more airtime on satellite TV than The Greatest Game. This is reprehensible in the extreme.
Denying Salford a licence should give everyone pause.
As I’ve previously stated, Salford faces a unique challenge in keeping Rugby League alive in the shadow of one of the most famous football clubs in the world. The sporting audience in Salford will always embrace football rather than Rugby League and it’s a miracle that our game survives in Greater Manchester. Resources should be pouring into the club (and Swinton).
To deny these clubs the opportunity to offer young Salfordians a shot at the big time is nothing less than lunacy.
As for the spat between Mike Bardill (Mailbag, 24 May) and seemingly the rest of the Rugby League family, as a fellow Warringtonian (Hello Mick! Long time no see!) I have only this observation to offer. Clubb did indeed confirm Savelio’s Polynesian heritage in his outburst……nothing wrong with that, I think. But what I did find strange is that no-one was offended by Clubb’s unfortunate usage of the “c” word.
I have no problem being referred to as a Wire, a woolly-back or a plastic Manc., but the “c” word? I think you and I will need to step outside and discuss the meaning of this epithet in rather more physical terms.
Make your mind up, RFL. What actually constitutes foul and abusive language on the pitch?
Mick Devlin, Warrington
Leadership is essential in any business and communication is one of the most vital components to ensure leadership works.
The fact that the RFL claims that dialogue had been had with all the Super League clubs regarding Academies, but those clubs all disagreed, shows a major lack of communication.
Everyone should have been working together to ensure that by the time it was communicated to the public every one of those involved should have been fully aware of what was going on. The fact that it wasn’t, but was claimed to be by the RFL, highlights its poor leadership.
Communications had not taken place prior to the release to the public but the RFL still maintains it did everything it could prior to the initial announcement.
Poor communication equals poor leadership.
Someone needs to be accountable and it’s not the clubs.
Jonathan Whitaker, Leeds
CASTLEFORD’s ASHES WINNING ICONS
Tuning into Sky Sports a week last Thursday night to watch the Salford v Warrington game, how refreshing it was to listen to the pre-match interview with RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer.
Brian Carney and a fired-up Terry O’Connor gave him a deserved grilling on the omissions of Academy status to Super League clubs Castleford, Hull KR and Salford.
But all he could come up with in riposte was: “You two have never won an Ashes series against Australia.”
Those two and many more, may I add.
I thought he was going to finish it off by saying: “Na, na, na, na, na.” How pathetic! He should grow up.
For the record, the last series victory in Australia – the 1970 tour – consisted of Castleford players Derek Edwards, Alan Hardisty, Keith Hepworth, Dennis Hartley and Malcolm Reilly, plus two more Castleford lads who came through the system – Roger Millward and Johnny Ward. I rest my case.
Mick Morgan, Castleford
Clubs appear to be rushing to expensive legal proceedings over the RFL’s decision not to award elite Academy licences to certain clubs.
Wouldn’t it be far better to have an internal review?
A panel could be set up of a sympathetic judge (yes, there are judges who are Rugby League supporters) and say a recently retired player and coach to review the decision.
This is the way disciplinary panels are currently made up.
Both sides could present their arguments in writing or in person and a fully argued and fully informed decision could then be produced from people who understand and support the game. The clubs could then decide whether it was worth taking it any further.
Andy Hosking, Ilkley
IN SUPPORT OF ANTI-RACISM
The Rugby Football League is absolutely right to continue with its stance against racism.
In a week when another player is rightly banned for making a racist comment (online this time) we have Mr G. Fawcett in your Mailbag calling the 13-second pause “idiotic”.
He states, “You may be acceding to Sky’s dictate but you are not reflecting our views.”
Well, I have news for you, sir, they are very much reflecting mine and my friends and many others’ views!
Like him, I too hear the comments in pubs and clubs around the country when the teams kneel. Sadly, many of the comments are soaked in racist implications.
Now to the most odious part of his politically motivated right-wing diatribe. As I read it, he appears to imply that George Floyd somehow deserved to be murdered because of his history of drug dealing. This suggestion is particularly abhorrent and is exactly the kind of opinion that needs to be kept well away from our great game.
Kindly note that I only mention his right-wing leanings because of Mr Fawcett’s comment that BLM is a left-wing political organisation. It is no such thing, it is a movement, not an organisation.
I do find your willingness to print his very right-wing view a little disturbing.
However, I would suggest that so long as you do not feel a need to censor mine and others’ replies, I will not cancel my subscription.
Brian Miles, Leeds
BLM’S VITAL ROLE
Geoff Fawcett from Workington is the latest reader to get upset about some players and clubs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement (Mailbag,31 May).
Usually, the complaints have been about players taking the knee.
How some people can get so upset about a five-second show of respect for all those who have suffered from racism over centuries is quite baffling.
However, I suppose embarrassment does cause some people to act in strange ways.
More specifically, Geoff Fawcett is extremely concerned about the Black Lives Matter movement as an organisation, saying that it is a “declared political and left-wing organisation” and that, as such Rugby League’s “blind allegiance is unacceptable and abhorrent”.
As for his comments about George Floyd, I will just say that I will not give oxygen to such views. But I do go into local pubs and I have heard some mumblings along the lines he describes, but I usually tell them my own views and just as forcefully.
The BLM movement was formed in 2013, long before the murder of George Floyd, and is meant to draw attention to and rid the world of its apathy towards racism.
After all, if good men stand back and do nothing, then bad things will happen.
Simply to describe something as abhorrent and unacceptable because it is left wing is an incoherent argument.
I disagree with most political parties but would only call them abhorrent and unacceptable if they were inciting hatred and harm to others to achieve their aims.
But the recent publicity of BLM was brought about by the actions perpetrated over a long time by a predominantly white establishment against a mainly black community, culminating in a murder that was filmed for all the world to see.
If openly supporting action against such happenings is unacceptable and abhorrent, then I hold up my hands.
Tony Winstanley, Castleford
MISSING THE POINT
With reference to the letter from Geoff Fawcett in last week’s League Express, come on Geoff, you’ve missed the point completely.
You say that Black Lives Matter is an unacceptable organisation and abhorrent because it is left wing and political. It’s the left-wing political movement that fights against injustice and racism.
Black Lives Matter was founded because of the continuing murder of black people by the US police. No one was ever convicted of these murders and something had to be done.
Because this injustice was recognised by millions throughout the world it became a mass movement and the establishment could not ignore it.
It doesn’t matter what George Floyd’s background was; nobody deserves to be knelt on for nine minutes, unable to breathe, until they are dead. The international protest movement ensured that, at last, that policeman was found guilty of the murder.
A similar situation exists in Britain. There have been 1,500 deaths in police custody since 1990 of white and ethnic minority people and not one police officer has ever been found guilty of murder or manslaughter.
The Black Lives Matter movement has brought this to light and things must change. It is to be welcomed that the Rugby League supports this and a pity that you don’t, George.
One final point, George. I wonder if you approved of the knocking down of the slaver Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol. As some wise person said: “…the only ones who were against the toppling of his statue were either racists or pigeons!”
Mick Calvert, Holmfirth
On Saturday the BBC provided good coverage of two pulsating Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Later that night I watched the BBC news bulletins at 10 pm and then on Sunday morning.
But there was no mention of the two semis at all. We heard about a goalless draw between Wales and Albania and some low-ranking European cycling event instead.
Maybe they thought five hours of live coverage was enough, but Rugby League needs national news coverage.
Perhaps Mr Rimmer would be better tacking that issue instead of restricting Elite Academies.
Roll on Wembley!
David Challinger, Preston
IN SUPPORT OF FAGES
I found it slightly amusing to see people spouting off about sportsmanship with reference to Josh Griffin’s, which led to Theo Fages’ try.
Obviously, a lot of it came from Hull fans and from St Helens’ rivals.
But they did nothing wrong and Fages played to the whistle; as if any Hull player, or any Rugby League player, wouldn’t have done the same thing.
It’s an unusual one, as I’ve never seen a player previously let the ball go with an injury.
But if that is the argument put forward, that players should stop, then I’d expect the same reaction from all teams whenever a player receives an injury.
You cannot pick and choose which injury deserves to have the game stopped.
Mike Wright, Hull
Let me state that I am not a supporter of Wigan or Catalans, but I do believe in justice.
After the charges and decisions on the Hardaker/Tomkins incident we really need to know whether the tribunal actually watch the videos.
For what seemed like a considerable time during the early part of what these days passes for a tackle, Hardaker’s hand, up to the wrist, was buried between the tackled player’s legs. I understood that this was not considered a fair tackle and could be punished.
Several players have been suspended for eight matches, if I recall correctly, for involving themselves in that area. The tackled player may not have complained, but an offence is an offence.
The headbutting was clumsy and plainly the fruit of frustration, but again much less violent offences have been more severely punished. But hey, it’s Wigan, and he might be looking at an England spot!
As far as Joel Tomkins’ punches were concerned, Hardaker deserved every one, in my opinion. It’s always a good idea to look who is close at hand before you attack an opposition player.
When the game was less controlled than it is today, he would have almost certainly been carried off.
Glyn Smith, Runcorn
NEWS TRAVELS SLOWLY
I had a Scottish girlfriend who told me that when the Titanic went down the local paper had apparently reported “ship sunk, Aberdeen man feared drowned”.
I thought of that parochial view today, 31 May, with your front page and headline and photo was all about lowly Wakefield getting a win when the real Super League news was Catalans’ drubbing of Wigan
Maybe, as in 1815 with the Battle of Waterloo result, it takes time for news to reach Brighouse from the Continent.
G P Greenwood, in your Mailbag last week, referred to the omission of a conversion kick and its effect on punters, while you advised it was down to the scoring team if they took it or not.
The league table is determined by percentage of wins over losses and then on the percentage of points ratio.
All points will affect league positions at the end of the season; so it’s not about winning but the margin of winning.
David Taylor, Kendal
Editor’s note: That is a good point to make, but the game in question was a Challenge Cup game, where the only thing that mattered was the final result, which wouldn’t have been altered by a conversion.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Membership of the Grumpy Old Men’s Club is not something I aspire to, but I am beginning to feel sorry for the Sky commentary team.
Not because they have to find different ways to talk us through the robotic present-day version of a sport masquerading as Rugby League, but because they may soon have to go to language classes to describe it.
Announcing the teams ahead of the Salford-Warrington game, host Brian Carney told us about front row forwards (front rows of what?), Bill Arthur mentioned the hooking role (that doesn’t exist either).
Phil Clarke talked about a scrum-half, a position that has vanished along with scrums and second row forwards.
Maybe you could run a name-that-position competition rather than pretend there are such things as specialists these days. Any new viewer wouldn’t have a clue what any of them was talking about.
And is there anybody who can explain how the six-again rule works to the benefit of the offended team when they are robbed of making maybe fifty yards with a penalty kick before re-starting the tackle count?
The absence of scrums, which offer time for a breather, and the obsession with speed and strength are clearly among the reasons for so many injuries. And if anybody other than those of a masochistic nature enjoyed Salford’s game against Warrington, then I seriously fear for the game.
Still, as Bill Arthur described it at the end, it was an entertaining game. So, I am clearly missing something.
I’ll stop there, before I am tempted to name them!
Peter Wilson, Walney
THE APPEAL OF HISTORY
I was so pleased to find out that the Rugby League Express will come on Mondays.
I live in Essex, so I get all the news and reports, as where I live there`s little or no Rugby League coverage at all.
When I read your reports, you sometimes put little historical references.
I love history, and I learn so much more, as I`m sure your readers do. So can you please do those more often.
Joe Vince, Colchester
MAC’s FRENCH EXAMPLE
Perhaps almost as impressive as the Catalans’ overwhelming victory on Saturday was the sight of Steve McNamara speaking French at the post-match press conference.
They deserve to do well with leadership from the top like that.
Peter Moseley, Stockport
MAKING UP THE NUMBERS
Just to let Mr Thorpe (Mailbag, May 24) know, he should not worry too much about Wakefield being relegated.
He needs to remember that Leigh are in Super League as ‘visitors’, simply there to ensure there are six fixtures in every round of the competition.
That is all clubs want us for. We are not there on merit, so it’s less money to us.
Currently on the field it does not look good for us, not helped by some referees who keep well in with the big boys. We have experienced this before whenever we played Super League teams in the Cup. They were always on first-name terms, making us feel like second class citizens.
It’s almost as if upsetting the big boys will jeopardise their livelihoods.
Jim Charlton, Lytham St Annes
GOOD ON COVENTRY
Well done Coventry Bears on a great win over Rochdale Hornets.
It’s been a really good start to the season so far, with good performances and results.
League 1 appears very open with all to play for.
So here’s hoping the Bears can keep this form and stay in the mix.
Charlie Wood, Market Harborough
It was announced on Friday that Oldham’s home game, which was due to be played on Sunday June 12, had been switched to the previous day, in order to avoid a clash with an England football game.
This seems to me a complete disgrace. Fans have been complaining for years about inconsiderate late fixture changes made in order to accommodate Sky TV schedules.
But we cannot make such complaints any more, if we do the same thing ourselves.
Do the people making these decisions not realise that supporters have prior commitments, often arranged around long-ago-published Rugby League fixtures?
And then to be told the game is being shifted because of a b— football match, makes it even more annoying.
How to lose goodwill!
Ian Wilson, Macclesfield
TOO MUCH ROBBIE
I cannot speak too highly of the Our League streaming programmes, which have been have been such a boon in recent weeks.
Unfortunately, for me they have been spoiled by the presence of Robbie Hunter Paul.
Matt Newsome and Mark Wright are very competent commentators, clear of voice, well prepared and up with the play. But the voice of RHP drones on three times longer than necessary, well into the restart of play and, on occasion, talking over the commentator.
I find it difficult to follow what he is saying and I am not as fond of his voice as he seems to be.
My wish is that somebody could stand him down, but if not, please keep him away from the Leeds games.
Bob Chapple, Helmsley
A JOB FOR GARRY
In last week’s League Express Garry Schofield was talking about how he has put himself forward to be the chairperson for BARLA.
If he does get elected one of the first jobs he should sort out is finding someone to update the fixtures on the website, as not everybody buys League Express and it would help if people had an idea of any games that are being played. It has not been updated since March 2020.
Dave Williams, Southport
TOO MUCH INFO
Stop boasting, Garry!
Two weeks ago, Tommy Radounikis (a true great) got a mention because he put Garry in a team.
In this week’s piece he mentions he was very proud to take part in six losing series.
The only item missing, if he hadn’t played under the BARLA flag, was whether he had passed or failed his 11-plus
Ron Marney, Wakefield
WHERE’S THE CUP FINAL PREVIEW?
First the positives, I love the fact that League Express arrives in this Leicestershire household on a Monday morning, so kudos for that!
Also, the current Mailbag discussion on the lamentable decision to cut the number of elite Academies shows how out of touch with the real world the RFL are.
So, what is the point of the RFL? Certainly not to promote the game we love, it seems, as all they do is foster division and ill-feeling at every level of the game.
And that brings me on to my main point. Rumour had it a big women’s game was taking place at Leigh on Saturday and was to be shown on national TV. The Women’s Challenge Cup Final, no less.
Here was I expecting some mention of the game, perhaps player profiles, how they got there. Pictures, an advert or two, but…Nothing! Not a word, save for a couple of lines in the forthcoming fixtures section. Why?
Do you have an official women’s correspondent who leads the way in promoting the game?
It seems not. Mao said that women hold up half the sky. That would be 50%, according to your paper, this equates to 80 column inches out of 2,800.
The RFL (again) fail in every way to promote the game, but this was such a chance for League Express to promote a fantastic event played by true athletes and there is nothing.
So once again I ask myself, what is going on?
Jon Wilkins, Kirby Muxloe
Editor’s note: We carried a full preview of the game on the Totalrl.com website