UpFront: Promising signs ahead in Rugby League

As Garry Schofield points out in his Pulling No Punches column, when it comes to the bigger picture of where Rugby League is heading in the long term, we’re still awaiting answers.

But the finer details of the next twelve months, culminating in the World Cup between October 15 and November 19, continue to be firmed up.

More pre-season matches are being confirmed in the wake of the publication of the fixtures for Super League, which begins when St Helens host Catalans Dragons in a Grand Final repeat on February 10, the Championship (with Leigh versus Whitehaven first up on January 29) and League 1, which gets underway on March 26, when London Skolars host Hunslet.

Hopefully the worrying omicron variant of Covid, which threatens to pose all sorts of problems for rugby union and its two European competitions the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup, will be more under control by then.

And with the 15-a-side code providing a reminder of what’s coming in League 1 with a Sunday afternoon Championship showdown between Cornish Pirates and Doncaster (the former were 29-7 winners in Penzance), hopefully Rugby League’s newest semi-professional club, based 24 miles along the road in Penryn, will have got themselves sorted out by the time they make their bow with a trip to North Wales Crusaders on April 2.

Perhaps sensibly, given they have yet to announce any details of their squad or coach (go to League 1 News on pages 16 and 17 to find out the latest on what’s going on down in the West Country) Cornwall have decided against entering the 2022 Challenge Cup.

But a competition that was truncated this year is back to normal with the return of community clubs, including Edinburgh Eagles (see our story opposite) and teams from the services.

And the draws for the first and second rounds will take place on December 14 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which will host the final and that of the 1895 Cup as a double-header on May 28.

Well before then, next month in fact, our Rugby League World magazine will be back after an absence of almost two years due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

That is great news for League Publications Limited, because we’ve missed producing the glossy publication each month, and hopefully our much-valued readers, who can find out more on page three.

And don’t forget the new edition of our popular annual Rugby League Yearbook is now available. It would make an ideal Christmas present!

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.