Five must read features from 2019

Drew Darbyshire

There have been thousands of stories on Love Rugby League this year – but we have picked out five features that you need to read.

Five overlooked storylines from Great Britain’s 2006 Tri-Nations tour

Journalist Rob Conlon has got a couple of funny but juicy tales for us about the 2006 Great Britain tour.

The story about Gareth Hock being called up to the test team is just superb. After being told by Terry Newton that Hock was disgruntled, then coach Brian Noble recalls their post-match conversation:

“Gaz, well done, you’ve had a cracking game. What’s up?”

“Well, I’m not right happy.”

“What are you not happy about?”

“Well, do we have to sing that song before the game?”

“What song?”

“That song they made us sing before the game.”

“Do you mean the national anthem?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah – that one.”

“No, Gaz. If you don’t know the words you don’t have to sing that song, mate.”

Now, Noble laughs: “That was his only concern!”

Jamie Jones-Buchanan: I’ve loved, lived and learned, now I need to leave a legacy

Journalist Rob Conlon – who is part of the Planet Sport group – is a great features writer and he sat down with Leeds legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan ahead of his final season as a player back in January.

It is a long read but it is certainly worth it. Jones-Buchanan’s passion for rugby league and the city of Leeds is easily spotted in the piece, while

He said: “There’s that Stephen Covey quote about life and business being to love, to live, to learn and to leave a legacy. I’ve done the first three pretty much over the course of my career, and I’m still doing it to a degree. But I’ve got to that age where it’s time to leave a bit of a story and a legacy to everybody else.”

Can I have a rewind? Rugby league’s lost decade

Editor James Gordon discusses whether rugby league has moved forward since 2004, and it makes for interesting reading.

In the past 12 months, we have seen the return of automatic promotion and relegation, the return of the reserves set-up, the return of Great Britain, the return of the lower league cup, neutral Grand Final venue for the Championship, a more realistic Championship salary cap, a better environment for organic expansion sides and winter rugby for the community game.

Gordon wrote: “Look back at where rugby league was at in 2004 and ask yourself how much resource and time has been wasted on nonsense, rather than growing the commercial and broadcast reach of the game.”

Eye injury almost cost Wigan’s Chris Hankinson his career

There is a well-written piece by Kieron Dunn with Wigan centre Chris Hankinson, who suffered a nasty looking eye injury that almost cost him his career.

The former Swinton player was working as a trainee electrician before getting his dream move to hometown club Wigan in 2017.  However, it didn’t all go to plan as he suffered a serious eye injury in is second match for the club.

Dr Chris Brooks said: “Think of it like wallpaper, there’s a layer of skin over your eyeball that attracts the light that allows you to see, it was like wallpaper peeling from a wall which is why Chris experienced a dark corner in his vision.”

An in-depth insight in to club rugby league in France

Photo courtesy of Treize Mondial

Love Rugby League editor James Gordon and deputy editor Drew Darbyshire spent a weekend in Carcassonne covering the French Magic Weekend in November.

They spent a lot of time with Carcassonne co-manager Frederic Camel, who is one of the most passionate rugby league fans you will ever meet. Carcassonne operating off a budget of €780,000 for the 2019/20 season.

Camel said: “If you have two teams in Super League, you have more players at the top level so that’s good for the French team and the game.”