Off the Record: Rugby League Rumours and Gossip #165

The Sun snubs rugby league
After their reporters were unable to access the Magic Weekend at Anfield, due to the understandable ban of it across Liverpool, The Sun provided no coverage of rugby league’s big annual event and sports chiefs at the paper are understood to have expressed their anger at Super League chief Robert Elstone for choosing Liverpool over them knowing the impact that it would have. Their rugby league leading story over the weekend, and still live today is a rugby union piece about Danny Cipriani’s Rugby World Cup chances being dealt a blow. The Sun have had consistently the best rugby league coverage for many years, and were one of few publications to make the effort to go to the Nou Camp recently.

Toulouse on the move for 2020
Toulouse are in talks about a permanent ground share with rugby union counterparts Stade Toulousain. The recent game against Toronto was moved to their Stade Ernest Wallon home, attracting a crowd of 6,000. With planned re-development at the Stade des Minimes halted, Olympique have been playing at Blagnac RUFC, though it wouldn’t be suitable for Super League. With possible changes afoot regarding the make-up of Super League, Toulouse are hoping to get a ground share in place to boost their top flight ambitions – especially with talk of a stadium expansion in the not too distant future.

All change at Warrington centre
Warrington are set to wave goodbye to centres Bryson Goodwin and Ryan Atkins at the end of the season. Goodwin is understood to be returning Down Under, while Atkins is being touted around several clubs, with Salford linked with a move. The movements fit in with the likely signing of Anthony Gelling, with the only stumbling block now believed to be negotiating with Widnes over the final year of the Kiwi’s contract. Gelling has only played twice for Widnes in the past two months.

Number of pro clubs to cut to 30?
It’s looking unlikely that League One will exist post the 2021 funding/broadcast split, with Championship clubs already preparing for negotiations for their own TV deal with the likelihood they will be cut out of the funding via Super League. There is now a scramble for the clubs who think they can maintain semi-professional rugby league in its current form, with fears clubs will cease to exist.

Ford link strengthens
Talk of York coach James Ford going to Hull KR at the end of the season is gathering pace. Though not confirmed, it’s looking like Tim Sheens will be stepping aside, and Ford is the favourite. Former Castleford and Widnes centre Ford has led York to third place in the Championship in their first season back in the second tier, having beaten Bradford to the League One title last season.