League Express Mailbag – Monday 9th August


What a contrast from 1946, when Australia, following the end of the Second World War, felt isolated from Britain and were desperate to renew international sport.

Their sport had been severely restricted due to a lack of young men being available.

The only visitors to Australian shores during the war had been American troops, after General McCarthy made the country a base for his command in South East Asia.

The country needed to develop again quickly and raise public morale.

The Australian Minister for external affairs, Dr Herbert Evatt, who was also a patron of the New South Wales Rugby League, rushed to Britain to persuade the government here to establish the feasibility of an immediate sporting tour to Australia, and thereby reinforce the special bond that had always existed between the two nations.

The only British sporting body prepared to make that possible and overcome all the obstacles of a major tour, was Rugby League. The cricket and rugby union bodies were in no position to contemplate such an undertaking.

The long tour would put great strain on our players, many of whom had been away from home for over five years, serving overseas and some who had to be discharged from the services. They would now have to leave their families behind for another six months and play 27 matches on the other side of the world.

The British Government and the Rugby League Council moved heaven and earth to make that tour happen. Without any hesitation whatsoever, the famous British Rugby League Lions, who became known as “The Indomitables”, occupied the last available twenty-six berths on an aircraft carrier heading to Fremantle.

Proudly led by their captain, Gus Risman, they sailed on the high seas for almost a month to represent their sport and their country. So, notwithstanding the complex and uncertain times we now live in, what has happened to the Indomitable spirit in Australian Rugby League?

Simon Foster, Beverley



Australia and New Zealand should both be ashamed of themselves.

Only a few weeks ago, we heard that the 2021 Rugby League World Cup is going ahead. A week later, we heard that Australia and New Zealand were not taking part.

Last Saturday the three NRL matches were postponed, because of the Lockdown, in Australia. The NRL rearranged those matches, very quickly for Sunday.

So if the Australians can do that, why did they say they wouldn’t come?

International Rugby League is at rock bottom at the moment, so I hope Troy Grant can sort everything out.

Joe Vince, Colchester



I’m disgusted with the Australian NRL.

Their actions show a total disregard for international Rugby League, the organisers and sponsors of the tournament, and the thousands of fans who, like me, have booked tickets for the games well in advance, and were looking forward to a great occasion.

Their spurious excuse of ‘player safety’ is without credibility, when most players wanted to take part, and other Australian national sides (rugby union, Olympics) are touring overseas this year.

I don’t envy Jon Dutton and his team the formidable task of rearranging the tournament for 2022.

There were so many reasons why 2021 was ideal, and equally so many why 2022 will be difficult.

Not only that, but first they have to dismantle the complex arrangements for this year and have precious little time to prepare a tournament for next year.

And who would bet against the NRL forcing another withdrawal in 2022, if it was in their interests?

Mike Worthington, Hexham



The feeling of anticlimax at the postponement of the World Cup is massive so why not replace it, for this year, with a ‘Northern Hemisphere Nations Cup’?

Eight Northern Hemisphere international teams were expecting to play in an international competition (I am counting Lebanon as effectively Australian). It should not be too difficult to organise.

The four UK and Ireland teams could play in the UK and Ireland, on existing professional Rugby League club grounds, although if Scotland and Ireland could find suitable grounds at short notice that would be great.

France could host the other four nations games at their two professional Rugby League grounds, although Jamaica playing at one of the London grounds could be popular.

The two pool winners could meet in the final at one of the big Super League grounds.

It could even become a regular feature every four years, with plenty of potential for expansion: USA, Canada, Spain, the eastern European sides, the African champions (currently Nigeria) and perhaps even Lebanon. Seize the Day!

Andy Hosking, Ilkley



I have been watching what passes for rugby in the Lions Test matches, where the whole object is to kick the leather off the ball, play as slowly as possible, and generally not resemble anything William Webb Ellis started when first picking up the ball and running with it.

In postponing the World Cup therefore, Rugby League has missed a great chance to show the world what proper rugby is all about.

Running with the ball, that is, great passing, inventive scoring of tries, clever tactical kicking, and above all thirteen highly skilled players, as opposed to players who trundle from set-play to set-play, achieving nothing on the way.

Steve Collins, Beverley



Your match correspondent describes the circumstances leading up to the Jake Mamo ‘gamebreaker’ try in the Warrington-Wigan game as “perhaps controversial” (League Express, 2 August).

There was no room for controversy. Liam Marshall was knocked out by a kick to the head by Josh Charnley.

The referee should have stopped play to allow the Marshall injury to be treated by medical staff. The game should have been restarted with a penalty to Wigan.

This did not happen. Nor was there a video review to ascertain whether the Charnley kick to the head was purely accidental or constituted reckless behaviour.

It was disgraceful that Mamo took advantage of the referee’s dereliction of duty to pick up the ball that had come loose and score a try. He should now be serving a long ban for bringing the game into disrepute.

Rod Cross, Glasgow



So what do Sky want?

A team in every town and city from both codes to play a new game called the 100, where a team of 9 players keeps playing until 100 tackles have been made by both sides!

Then game over so they can show the women’s and the men’s game the same day!

Tell Sky we’re off to ITV, Channel 4 or 5 and I bet BT would rather have the greatest spectator sport in the world then second rate football.

Mr M Leather, Warrington



               When I first read your editor Martyn Sadler’s proposal on the Totalrl.com website for a reorganisation of the RFL’s competitions, in which he suggests six Conferences with six teams in each Conference, selected from Super League, the Championship and League 1, I was at first sceptical.

Like many people, the prospect of some potentially one-sided matches between teams at different levels in the same Conference would hardly be attractive.

I’m a Leeds supporter, for example, and I’m not sure that home and away games against Hunslet would be a big draw.

But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it, especially compared to what the RFL is proposing, which is a Super League of only ten clubs.

Unfortunately, with such a competition, the boredom factor would kick in quickly, with Leeds playing only nine other clubs.

In Mr Sadler’s model, however, Leeds would have fixtures against 20 other clubs.

There would be an incentive for those other clubs to raise their standards.

And let’s not forget that by bringing all the clubs together under one umbrella, we would eliminate the hostility between Super League and the rest, while the supporters of all the clubs would be encouraged to support the game on whatever broadcasting outlet, whether Sky or another channel, that eventually screens Rugby League.

David Richards, Leeds



Your readers’ initial reaction to this letter may be, ”Sour grapes because your team got stuffed!” but I encountered shortcomings at a Rugby League game and feel it is more than appropriate to mention them

Having booked my ticket online and printed it off, I showed it to a blue-vested steward outside the stadium, who said something to the effect of, “That’s your turnstile. Sit anywhere you like when you’re in.”

Once inside, however, a yellow-vested lady steward insisted that I should sit in my designated seat. Which one was right? They cannot both be.

As it was a warm day I had purchased a bottle of water on my way to the ground. I didn’t try to hide it at all, nor was I challenged when I got inside. But a lady York fan who I was chatting to later, was most unchuffed that ‘her soft drink can’ had been taken from her. Who was right? They cannot both be.

Just after the kick-off, a Lion I know well came up to me and said, “I got in for nowt. There was still a big queue at the ticket office coming up to 3.00 pm so they opened the big gate and let us in free!”

“How many of you were there?” I asked him. About a hundred of us, at a guess,” he said.

One hundred, at fifteen to twenty pounds each? That’s somewhere between one and half and two thousand pounds the club missed out on. Who made that decision? The stadium authorities? The Knights? Both? Whoever it was that money is gone forever.

Don’t get me wrong, the LNER Stadium is a superb facility. I wish we had something even remotely resembling it in M27, but from what I personally witnessed they have some major problems there, which need ironing out, and quickly.

John Spellman, Eccles



                There was an issue with video refereeing in the game between Leeds and Warrington that has been bothering a lot of people.

On three occasions a decision was referred to the video referee, Robert Hicks. The first two were very similar; both checking the grounding. On the first occasion, checking for a double movement by Mikolaj Oledzki. Both had received on-field decision in favour of Leeds; both groundings were heavily scrutinised by Hicks despite appearing to be pretty clear-cut

So that was the problem on the first two occasions: slowing the game down. Slowing a game down for too long can damage a team’s momentum, which can seriously impact on the outcome of a game.

On the third occasion the ref was also checking a grounding, this one by Josh Charnley. The on-field decision on that occasion had gone in favour of Warrington, but the replay was heavily looked at from all angles, with none of them seeming to show the ball being grounded; seeming instead to show a knock-on by Charnley. To the dismay of many though, the video decision was given as a try.

Sufficient evidence seemed to be what Hicks was looking for and on the first two occasions seemingly found, but on the third occasion completely ignored. Why, on that occasion, could Hicks not find sufficient evidence to overturn the decision?

We need to take a serious look at video refereeing, and how we can make it the perfect way of coming to a final decision, especially in such great games as this one was.

Luke Smith, York