Here is a new feature on the Totalrl.com website, this week’s League Express Mailbag, which includes a selection of letters addressed to us from our readers. If you would like to contribute a letter to League Express you can do so by emailing us at Mailbag@totalrl.com.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME
I agree with your editorial in last week’s League Express about the increase in the number of overseas players that Super League clubs will be able to bring over to this country to play in Super League.
I object to this decision on three grounds.
First of all, the clubs will no doubt spend money they can’t afford on NRL players. At a time when some players are having to take pay cuts, this outcome would be highly undesirable.
Secondly, the decision sends a very bad sign to young players who are trying to break through into Super League. The RFL has already said that there won’t be a reserves competition next season, so how are our young players going to get the relevant experience if they find their path into the first team blocked by even more imported players.
Thirdly, the RFL’s priority should surely be for England to win the World Cup in 2021. And yet we are likely to find more and more players who don’t qualify for England occupying most of the playmaking positions in Super League.
For example, I am a supporter of Huddersfield Giants, and I have enjoyed watching Aidan Sezer since he joined our club at the start of the season.
But we can’t deny that Sezer is keeping Tom Holmes and Oliver Russell, who are both promising young players, out of the Huddersfield first team.
If we replicate that across all the other Super League clubs, we can see that young English qualified players who should be getting experience in our own competition will not be getting the experience they should be having to prepare them for higher honours.
In my view the overseas quota should be falling, not rising, perhaps to a maximum of three players. And every Super League club should be required to invests the money it currently spends beyond that figure into its local community game to generate the next generation of star players.
Jim Wilson, Huddersfield
WILL THE RFL LEARN?
Once again there are issues with the Woolpack.
Already, because of weather conditions in Toronto, they play the early part of the season in this country. Now, in addition to their precarious financial position, they have visa problems related to the number of Australian and New Zealand players in their squad.
Why does the RFL persist in allowing clubs with no pedigree to become members of the RFL?
Never having travelled to Canada, I have no knowledge of the weather conditions in January and February there, but that is when our season starts. So it would be interesting to know if the weather in Ottawa is similar to that in Toronto.
We all know that Ottawa is to enter League 1. Is an Ottawa club also going to raid the NFL and RFL for players? Yes, of course! So instead of one Canadian outpost with potential problems we will have two.
Will the Rugby Football League ever learn?
Ian Haskey, Castleford
WELL DONE FOR CARRYING ON
With the season ready to begin again in August, I thought it only right to congratulate you on your efforts to keep publishing since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Initially you had no matches to report on, but then in late May the NRL season started again and you have kept us informed about its progress.
You have also had lots of other content managed to keep the news flowing even when we probably thought there would be nothing to report.
Sadly, one of the recurring news items has been obituaries of players who have passed away during this period. But I for one always take great pleasure in reading about the achievements of these players.
I have great memories of Bill Ramsey and, like Mr Sadler, bought an electrical item from him in the Comet store in Wakefield, where he worked after his retirement as a player. He was a gentleman as well as a great player and I was glad that you were able to present us with a summary of his remarkable career in the form of Bill’s obituary.
You deserve enormous credit for keeping going over the last four months and I only hope that your audience has stuck with you.
Bill Rees, Wakefield
CAN RED DEVILS AFFORD IT?
Sale Sharks RUFC are currently planning to redevelop their former home at Heywood Road, Sale, with a view to moving back there.
Such a move would leave the Salford red Devils as the sole tenants at the A J Bell Stadium.
Would that be financially feasible for the club?
John Tinker, Mossley
Having seen the fixtures for the first four rounds of Super League, I note that every team, apart from one, is playing at a neutral venue.
That team, with home advantage in two of the four rounds is, of course, Leeds.
I know there will be no fans present but playing on its home ground does give a team an edge. Perhaps the delay in issuing the fixtures was due to Leeds threatening not to take part if they couldn’t have home games.
Steve Rutter, Bolton
A PROPER RUGBY LEAGUE PLAYER
I was very sad to hear of the recent passing of Bill Ramsey.
I first saw Bill playing for Hunslet in the 1965 Challenge Cup Final. When the commentator asked the Hunslet captain, Fred Ward, who he thought was the man of the match, he replied: “Young Bill Ramsey.”
Bill moved on to Leeds, where he supplied some much needed feistiness to the pack. It was a good signing, both for Leeds and for Bill, who later went on to serve Bradford, Hull and Widnes. He was a barnstorming forward who could play what Garry Schofield describes well as “a proper Rugby League player”.
I met Bill at the launch in Wakefield of the book ‘They Played on Water’. He was kind and courteous in every way.
Rest in peace, Bill.
Chris Birtles, Droylesden
DON’T ABOLISH SCRUMS
Like all Rugby League fans, I have been following the latest developments with regard to action on the field restarting.
One such issue is the suspension of scrums for safety reasons, which of course leads on to the ongoing debate about whether scrums should be abandoned altogether.
I fully support the view that safety has to be paramount, but I do think that playing without scrums and allowing tackles and all other forms of contact is contradictory.
If the risks of the scrum are so high, then it is difficult to believe the other forms of contact are safe and therefore it is too early to restart.
On the wider issues of scrums, I believe they are an integral part of the game and should be retained. Rugby League is not all about speed or quick play-the-balls. Scrums need to be developed to encourage skilful halfback play so as not to leave the game as a one-dimensional sport.
David Wilkinson, Delamere Cheshire
LET’S GET IT STRAIGHT
At no time did I suggest that scrums are designed to get forwards out of the way, as Mr Bagley (Mailbag 6 July) implies.
It was Mr Bagley himself who said scrums are not fit for purpose and he would prefer a tap start, though his opinion seems to be changing.
I would rather see a contested scrum with all the skills we used to have, with the referee ensuring that the ball goes is straight. Just think of it, instead of people shouting, “Gerrumonside,” they could shout, “Put the bawl in strait.”
He is also concerned that the team making the error should not be given an immediate chance to win back possession. To which I would answer that the team not committing the error gets the advantage of ‘head and feed’ at the scrum.
Jim Sandford, St Helens
GET RID OR MAKE REAL
Geoff Bagley from Leeds and I should get together at Headingley (two metres apart, of course), as we are both singing from the same hymn sheet on scrums.
Association Football has brought in a separate ‘tactical break’ to their game. Why don’t we, in Rugby League, follow suit with a break to give the poor-old-tired forwards a breather.
Having been a hooker myself, I know all about the need for a breather, especially in the other form of rugby.
But players at the highest level these days are supposed to be fitter than ever, so not in need of a breather.
Let us be brutally honest. Today’s scrums have no skill, no point, and no need! Get rid or make them an integral part of the game again, with both teams having an equal chance to win the ball back.
Once again to all of you, stay safe and enjoy anticipating the return of TV action.
John Egan, Manchester
THE 8 BALL KNOWS
When you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it’s time to consult the RFL 8-Ball.
Martyn Simpson, Toronto