WITH the Super League season done and dusted for another year and Great Britain on the other side of the world for their tough Tri-Nations task, it will be many months before most rugby league fans watch a live game again.
All across the game's heartlands, replica shirts are being tucked away at the back of the wardrobe, not to be dusted off until Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas have all passed.
But there is no need for the league-loving legions to go into seasonal hibernation as wonderfully competitive matches are taking place every weekend at amateur level.
Anyone who has already ventured to an amateur game will know they are played with as much pride, intensity and committment as the professional version. But for those who are unfamiliar with amateur stuff, a simple glance at our National Conference coverage gives an indication of just how close and competitive it is.
The National Conference League has evolved into a super competition in which there are upsets virtually every week and in which the top matches can attract crowds rivalling those of the lower tiers of the National Leagues.
Wests had topped the Premier Division going into the game, whilst Easts were fifth – but it was the hosts who took the spoils. West Hull weren't the only big side beaten either. Hull Dockers went down away at Siddal and Eastmoor were thrashed away at Wath Brow Hornets.
It's not often the top three in Super League, National League One or National League Two all lose in the same weekend, is it? We're all looking forward to Great Britain kicking off in the Tri-Nations tournament on Saturday. It's what we've been waiting for for months now, as I'm sure you'll have gathered from our dedicated coverage of the international game throughout the year.
The Federation Shield also got well underway at Headingley Carnegie Stadium yesterday (Sunday), as England took on France and Samoa met Tonga. We've been excited about that too and will continue to cover the tournament over the next few weeks. But whilst we're excited about the big boys going head to head, the lads slugging it out on a Saturday afternoon for nothing more than the love of the game deserve our attention to.
So, when you get up early on Saturday morning to watch our boys Down Under take on the powerful Kiwis, don't go back to bed at the full time hooter – whatever the temptation.
Instead, get yourself out to your local amateur club – have a few drinks, some food, and enjoy the Greatest Game throughout the winter – there'll be some cracking rugby on display, that's for sure.