How fans can help create rugby league history during the lockdown

7th February 2020, KC Stadium, Hull, England; Betfred Super League, Hull FC v Hull Kingston Rovers : Hull KR fans before kick-off

A first of its kind sports history project has been launched to document the impact of rugby league during the coronavirus lockdown.

The project, called Life Without League: Rugby at the time of Coronavirus, seeks fans to help document history by keeping diary entries while the sport is suspended.

Until now, only the two World Wars have disrupted the 125 years of rugby league, and at this time, no one is quite sure what impact the pandemic will have on the sport, or indeed the population.

Participants can submit one or multiple daily entries as they wish, to be deposited in the Rugby Football League Archive, held at the University of Huddersfield.

The brainchild of the project, Dr Victoria Dawson said: “We’re living in an unprecedented time. It’s quite bizarre, and it’s all happened so quickly.

“Life has been turned upside down. I’ve heard rugby supporters say ‘what are we going to do’ now that the rugby has been suspended.

“Looking through the 125 years of history of rugby league, supporter experiences are what’s massively lacking from the official archives.

“So the idea for this is so that when someone else is researching rugby league in another 125 years, that they know what things were like during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Fans and any other people connected to rugby league, be it players, coaches, officials, journalists or volunteers, are being encouraged to fill in a diary entry to document their time – whether they do it as a one-off, once a day, once a week or once a month – which will be filed in the official RFL archive.

They can download a diary template via the Life Without League website and people can, if they wish, remain anonymous.

Dr Victoria is an honorary researcher at the University College London, and previously completed a PhD thesis on the history of women’s involvement in rugby league, which is acting as the basis of a book that is currently being written.

Her PhD supervisor was renowned rugby historian Professor Tony Collins.

She added: “The more we can document now, the more we can tell the story. No one knows what’s going to happen.

“It will tell future generations what rugby league is like now.

“Our sport is community based, it’s not just about what’s on the pitch, it’s how it affects people’s every day lives, it’s cultural importance. It’s who we are, it’s where we come from.

“It will also show the importance of sport as a place within people’s lives.

“People in the future will want to know what life was like during the coronavirus pandemic. By providing even one diary entry, rugby league fans can help show what life was like for people in this time.”

You can download the diary entry template here.

By participating in this project, you will be contributing to the understanding of how this global pandemic affects everyday life, and how the absence of rugby league affects the whole rugby league community. You will also contribute to our wider understanding of rugby league and its cultural significance in people’s everyday lives.

For more information, visit the Life Without League website or follow on Twitter.

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