Independent Thinking

As a sport, Rugby League has been taking a kicking for many years down Fleet Street, particularly when Union loving broadsheets used to sneer behind high-brow prose.

Thankfully, things seemed to change when Union went professional in 1995 and although League has struggled along trying to get a bigger exposure in the printed media, made nigh impossible thanks to the near blanket coverage that Premiership Football receives, it did seem to attract more thorough articles for a time.

There are a small group of well established journalists that continue to champion the Rugby League cause at national media level and a whole host of people like myself who push the stories in local media and of course online.

Down the years I have been impressed with the writing of Andy Wilson, Chris Irvine and Dave Hadfield of The Independent, while Neil Barraclough and Gary Carter also do their level best to push RL stories where they can.

I have to admit that I was really disappointed with the Independent online this past weekend. In fact disappointed is putting it mildly.

Now criticism, I can take, I’ve got thick skin and at times this great sport of ours doesn’t help itself with the occasional negative story or PR own-goal but even those have lessened in recent years and the current media team at the RFL and dedicated people producing stories for BARLA all work so hard.

I’d like to think that if I have a point and report something in a less than shining light, it is constructive and certainly there is no nastiness behind it. In my opinion there is no need for nasty journalism.

I read a preview of the sporting week which Independent Sports Editor Marc Padgett writes religiously every seven days and was angered by what I see as an attack on Rugby League.

While Marc is employed to evoke a reaction and he probably thought he was being entertaining, I did not find his comments so funny. I just thought he was having a sly dig and unearthing the old northern stereotypes. Now Padgett is obviously an experienced journalist. His blog pen picture suggests that he has worked on titles in Blackpool, Barrow, Edinburgh and even Sydney.

He may not like Rugby League and that’s certainly the impression his article on 23rd January gives but I feel there really was no need to attack MY sport the way he did.

His comments can be found at: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/others/the-sporting-week-ahead-230111-2191809.html

Now his offending comment read: Thursday

If you’re not too busy taking pop bottles back for your 20p refund, you could maybe take in rugby league’s launch of the Northern Rail Cup in Halifax. Or maybe stick pins in your eyes?

Especially beneath Super League, competitions struggle to create exposure, despite the fact that a game a week is televised and there being some wonderful sponsors for the competitions.

Northern Rail are one of those companies that have been very good for Rugby League and are now an established partner in the RFL portfolio. His comments are also disrespectful to the sponsors and every one of the twenty clubs and their various coaching staffs.

I would suggest people write to the Independent, or even boycott it, save the great work by Dave Hadfield, or even prove that you love Rugby League as much as I do, heck if the students can have their say, I’m sure we as Rugby League fans can as well.

One thing is for sure if I’m ever offered a copy of the Independent I might just tell whoever, no I’ll just stick pins in my eyes instead!

What may work better than that, which would draw a few strange looks from newsagents to say the least, might be a copied version of the following text.

Marc

I was disappointed to read your “The Sporting Week Ahead” from 23rd January. I thought we were past all this belittling of sports nowadays? It would appear from reading your comments that is not the case.

The Northern Rail Cup is a good competition for lower placed rugby league clubs that you may or may not realise actually do exist. In these days of bleak austerity so often reported in your newspaper, that company has also put a lot of money into the sport and continues to play a part in communities. This may not rank high in Fleet Street ivory towers, but it resonates with these areas, many trapped by the closure of the coal and mill trades and only now, so many years later, emerging from their shadow.

I know rugby league is not to everyone’s taste but I would not dream of such a low blow against it or any other sport for that matter.

I have recommended all my friends and family against buying the Independent. I hope you are proud.

Dave Parkinson.

Do you agree? Would you back such a campaign? Let us know on the loverugbyleague.com forums or drop me a message on Twitter @DParkyRL

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