RFL still hoping for crowds at end of September

The Rugby Football League has continued to assess all Super League grounds ahead of the hoped-for return of fans next week, on 30 September, despite the threat of increased restrictions across the country potentially putting those plans in jeopardy.

Senior officials from both Super League and the RFL have spent last week visiting grounds that have not yet hosted fixtures since Super League resumed at the beginning of August.

That includes the likes of Castleford, Wakefield and both Hull clubs, with plans still being put in place to make those venues Covid-secure, should plans for spectators to return to games next Wednesday get final approval.

However, with Salford ruled out of a pilot event next week due to rising Covid infections in the local area, the news that Huddersfield has fallen under tighter local restrictions puts their own pilot event in jeopardy.

League Express understands that any decision about whether a pilot will take place is out of the RFL’s hands. The decision will instead be taken by the local public health authorities, who can overrule any preference by a sporting body about fans attending events.

When asked for a comment about whether the RFL still intends to prepare for fans to return next week, an RFL official told League Express: “The Betfred Super League clubs involved in the pilot games scheduled for September 30 held a meeting with the RFL on Friday to discuss a wide range of operational issues.

“The latest Government announcements regarding local restrictions were discussed, and all clubs and the RFL recognise the situation is fluid, with a priority of public health.

“The clubs agreed to proceed with planning for staging pilot games on September 30, unless advised otherwise by their local authorities, on the basis that this is a key step in the return of crowds, which is so important to the Betfred Super League.”

Castleford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Salford and Wigan are the clubs scheduled to host fixtures on Wednesday 30 September, with crowds, as it currently stands, limited to no more than 1,000 at each game.

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