Eye On Rugby League by Tony Williams
Whatever your views on the matter you have to say that the notion of moving an entire round of engage Super league XII lock stock and barrel to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium is an interesting one. To my knowledge I can't think of anything like that being attempted before in rugby league history.
Unlike most controversial ideas generated at Red Hall, to which fans are invariably opposed, this one has the great rugby league public split straight down the middle opinion-wise. There really are convincing arguments for both sides.
For a start, such a bold and original move would surely grab a great deal of publicity for rugby league. At a time of year when there is no longer any showpiece occasion this is an ideal opportunity to see our sport on a big stage and as a sport which lacks the media coverage afforded to our rivals we have to do something drastic like this to interest the press.
This will be especially true in Wales itself, where rugby league has been making great strides recently. The RFL estimate that up to 15,000 fans from the principality took in last season's Powergen Challenge Cup final, and a similar number will likely turn out for this event. Hopefully giving the Welsh a taste of live Super League will encourage support for NL2 Celtic Crusaders.
The initiative will also have the knock on effect of reducing the Super League season by one round – conveniently just what was needed to fit in an international next year, a XXXX Test for example. Playing the Kiwis on a weekend would be a better idea than a mid-week fixture, for the sake of both the players and the attendance figures.
But there is a downside to this. For a start the Super League fixture list would be even odder than it is this year. Try explaining how our league system works to anyone who doesn't follow the sport and the puzzled looks will tell you that we need to simplify matters.
Also, each Super League club will have to give up one home fixture resulting in a loss of earnings. This may not have a huge effect, but it is certainly a consideration. And if the Challenge Cup final has never encouraged fans to show up to Celtic Crusaders' games why would this have a greater effect?
To be honest I'm not sure what to make of this one. However, I will go as far as to applaud the RFL for this innovative idea, and I hope that whatever happens will be for the best.
Boost For International Rugby League
International rugby league is improving all the time. The LT messageboard sees regular contributions from those attempting to establish our great game in places like Norway, Serbia and Belgium, and recently BARLA Great Britain went on a successful tour to Italy.
This very week sees the inaugural Euro Nations u19s Championships in Perpignan, with England, France, Scotland, Serbia and Wales going head to head to try and claim the honour of being the first ever champions. That event will surely grow in stature over the next few years and will aid development in those countries.
Also, this autumn will see the first Euro-Pacific Cup here in England, with the English facing off with France, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. This four way tournament is an exciting idea, and with Great Britain away England will surely be well supported.
It's exciting to see this rugby league development across the globe and it all means that international rugby league is arguably in better shape than it ever has been before. We all know that the international game is the lifeblood of any sport, and the future of rugby league.
New Look Last Tackle
This is the first ‘Eye On Rugby League' column to come to you from the all-singing, all-dancing, brand new Last Tackle. Most people have agreed that the website's makeover has been an improvement, and the site now has more to offer than ever before.
More coverage of the LHF National Leagues and Australia's NRL is great, the addition of a transfer system to the fantasy league is a welcome one for those of us languishing in mid-table, a link up with Forty-Twenty looks to be bearing fruit, and soon we hope to expand our coverage of the amateur game when the BARLA National Conference begins in September.
And the new look site will hopefully prove to be the springboard to making Last Tackle the top rugby league website in this country in years to come. That might seem a bit far-fetched at the moment, but at one time having two codes of rugby seemed far-fetched. And with people like Jay, Matty and Taz behind the scenes anything is possible.
But for now, let's be happy that Last Tackle is gradually becoming the best place on the web for keeping your eye on rugby league.
Keep Your Eye On Rugby League