RFL awaits guidance after Queen’s death: Catalans v Leeds to go ahead as planned

Picture by: PA/PA Archive/PA Images. Queen Elizabeth II presents the Rugby League Challenge Cup to Derek Turner, captain of Wakefield Trinity, after she had watched, with 80,000 other spectators, his team beat Hull by 38 points to 5 at Wembley.

The RFL and other sporting bodies are awaiting guidance from the Government regarding the postponement of events following the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

It is expected that the governing bodies themselves will be left to decide whether or not to postpone their games this weekend and postponements will not be mandatory.

A meeting of governing bodies across a range of sports is being held this morning, where officials from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will set out Government guidance on the official period of mourning.

The first game of the Super League play-offs between Catalans and Leeds will definitely go ahead tonight, Friday September 9 – though the Championship fixture between Sheffield and Dewsbury has been postponed.

Leeds have confirmed that a planned fan event at Headingley for the game has been cancelled out of respect, but the game will still be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Huddersfield are due to face Salford in the second Super League play-off game at the weekend on Saturday, live on Channel 4, which has been broadcasting only tribute programmes to the Queen since Her Majesty’s death on Thursday afternoon.

There is a full programme of Championship fixtures scheduled for the weekend, as well as play-off games in League 1.

RFL statement on Friday fixtures

An RFL statement said: “Rugby League will pay its respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II throughout the period of national mourning.

“There will be no fixtures in England on Friday September 9.

“As Friday’s first Betfred Super League Elimination Play-Off is being played in Perpignan, it will go ahead as scheduled, as with other sporting events involving British teams abroad – with a minute’s silence before kick-off, and the players of Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos wearing black armbands.

“Similarly, the England Community Lions will show their respect before the Final of the European Under-19s Championships against France in Italy on Saturday evening.

“Further announcements will be made about the weekend fixtures at all levels, including the community game, Academy play-offs and the Betfred Women’s Super League Shield semi finals, following further meetings on Friday morning.”

A number of other sporting events have already been postponed, including the cricket test match between England and South Africa, cycling’s Tour of Britain and some Football League matches.

There were several British sides involved in European football action on Thursday night, with games going ahead following a minute’s silence and teams wearing black armbands.

None of the English sides held press conferences after their matches, while during the live TV broadcast, commentary and other sound was silenced out of respect.

There had been theories initially that all sport may be postponed for 10 days as part of the period of mourning, though it now appears this will not be the case.

That would have caused some headaches for the RFL and Super League, with just 15 days until the Grand Final is scheduled at Old Trafford and two rounds of play-off matches to get through before then.

Rugby league pays its respects

Rugby league clubs joined the world in mourning Her Majesty the Queen following her death at the age of 96.

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus said: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll has been the symbol of our country for the entirety of most of our lifetimes.

“We join the nation in the memory and celebration of her life in which she has been our comforting figurehead at times, and  during events, which have threatened our values and our future. Her strength has been our strength. She will forever be remembered for her dignity and her steadfastness.

“We thank her and the Royal Family for their support of our sport and of our towns and we  think and pray for them in their time of grief and of remembrance.”

The RFL also paid tribute to the Queen, who was a patron of the sport until 2016.

RFL chairman Simon Johnson said: “On behalf of the RFL and the whole Rugby League family, I express our deepest and most sincere condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The whole sport is in deep mourning at this extremely sad news.

“Rugby League was honoured to have her as our Patron until 2016, and throughout her long reign, Her Majesty’s sense of duty and commitment, her spirit and wisdom has been an example to all of us.

“We give grateful thanks for Her Majesty’s constant and positive influence on our communities over many generations.

“We send our deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences to the Royal Family including the RFL Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.

“Our clubs and players at all levels will display their respect to Her Majesty wherever Rugby League is played in the coming days.”

About James Gordon 7157 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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