Positive signs are sprouting

Upfront: The League Express opinion – Mon 26th April 2021

At least six sets of fans have grounds for optimism at the moment.

Wakefield will chase a first win of the season against Catalans on Friday buoyed by a return to their Mobile Rocket Stadium, where they will play for only the third time in more than a year.

All five of Trinity’s games so far this year have been on the road – one at Emerald Headingley, three on the trot at the Totally Wicked Stadium and Friday’s 20-14 defeat by Hull at the KCOM Stadium, where Chris Chester’s men lost out to a late try.

Looking further ahead, Rochdale are to host England’s World Cup warm-up match against Fiji.

The meeting on Friday, October 15 at the Crown Oil Arena will form part of the League 1 club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Hornets have had a special relationship with Fiji since signing four players from the Pacific island in the 1960s.

The town has the second-largest Fijian population in the UK after London and staged a 2013 World Cup match in which Fiji beat Ireland 32-14 in front of a sell-out 8,872 crowd.

Hopefully regulations will have eased enough to allow a similar figure for the visit of the England team, which provides the perfect opportunity to promote Rugby League in the town.

Meanwhile, Swinton have agreed an extension to their ground share agreement with rugby union club Sale, which means they will be based at Heywood Road until 2023 at least.

After a nomadic 24 years following the departure from their former Station Road home in 1992, the Lions have been settled at Sale since 2016, and, given the ground’s accessibility by car and public transport, staying there makes sense.

Bradford Bulls are also hoping to return to Odsal this season after moving to Dewsbury ahead of the all-too-short 2020 campaign because of rising maintenance costs at their own ground.

The famous old bowl has a special place in both the sport’s history and the hearts of the loyal Bulls fans, who are understandably eager for their side to return to playing home games in their home city.

The developments at Swinton and Bradford follow news that London Broncos are getting closer to a move to AFC Wimbledon’s new Plough Lane stadium, with all the advantages and opportunities playing at the 9,300-capacity venue would bring.

And across the Channel, the Broncos’ fellow Super League aspirants Toulouse have strengthened their links with French rugby union champions Stade Toulousain by signing a ground share agreement at the city’s Stade Ernest Wallon.

The historic nine-year deal is the first of its kind between the codes in France and puts an official stamp on the informal relationship between the two clubs, which has yielded joint training sessions, coaching seminars and promotional events at the 18,000-capacity ground.

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