The Commons Speaker and Kevin Sinfield – rugby league’s influence for change

As Kevin Sinfield embarks on yet another monumental fundraising effort amidst a buzz of publicity, his impending loss to rugby league moves even sharper in to focus.

Oldham-born Sinfield, a seven-time Super League winner with Leeds, is the epitome of what rugby league should be about.

He is the role model that all aspiring rugby league youngsters should look up to.

The sad thing is a six-year-old Kevin Sinfield in Oldham these days probably doesn’t even know rugby league exists.

How the sport hasn’t found a way of keeping someone who is clearly passionate, determined and driven is a worry and should hopefully prompt a further consideration of how the sport can not only stop the drain of player talent to rugby union, but also our legends as well.

It’s particularly frustrating when you see the same names coming up in executive jobs, that have already failed at multiple clubs, yet somehow come up smelling of roses on fat salaries somewhere else.

We talk about needing influence in high places, and while Sinfield can command plenty of media attention, the speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, gets more media coverage than most.

A Warrington fan, Sir Lindsay appeared on the BBC podcast this week calling for change in the sport.

If he can use his position to help drive and influence a positive future, then that will be great for all concerned.

A lot is often made of the location of rugby league’s attention, and how that its northern roots hold it back commercially. I would challenge that by saying there is plenty of money and commerce up north, and plenty of northern people with money to spend.

Heck, even the London Broncos owner, who has invested tens of millions in to that particular club just miles away from all this apparent ‘money’, hails from Swinton!

In the podcast, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said: “You go to Australia, there’s only one game and that’s rugby league. Our problem is we’re not the top game in this country but we’ve got the best game in this country.

“So how do we get that higher level of support, that higher level of commitment?”

Everyone, including yours truly, has their own idea of how best to take rugby league forward.

Experienced rugby league administrator Shane Richardson, formerly of Gateshead and Hull, recently released a paper which he says shows the way forward for British rugby league.

He said: “In recent days I have heard directly and indirectly that the idea of an Independent Commission in the UK has struck a chord with people in the game.

“Sir Lindsay is a great rugby league man and for him to agree with the host David Woods regarding an independent review is a big step forward.

“As soon as we start to move away from clubs and their narrow self-interest in any official process, we start to achieve things.

“I hear that Sir Lindsay also spoke in favour of promotion and relegation and that is also in line with my proposal which retains that institution.”

With Super League and the RFL currently discussing a re-alignment, with some rumours that it may be used to force change at the top of the game, time is now critical to set rugby league on the right path forward.

5 Comments

  1. YEs LIndsly Hoyle is a great ambassador for our wonderful game but surely we got to get away from the old cloth cap images how can we expect large companies and people wanting to sponsor a game when some of the venues are a complete embarrassment.
    Who is going to put their Name on a shed that’s 40 plus years old how on earth they get a safety certification let alone charge fans to sit in them.
    When these games are televised in Australia and New Zealand what do they think ,rugby Union in this country just get Major sponsors like Jaguar Land Rover Nat west and so on.
    In my opinion we need two french teams one London team a strong Championship league with super League reserve clubs in promoting the highest finishing Championship club.
    Also bring back war of the roses with meaning.

  2. Get away from the cloth cap images???? Where do you think the players who play the game come from…Eton? If that’s what you want, forget League, watch Union.

  3. The biggest RL problem is visibility in the media. When it is covered, it seems tongue-in-cheek and insincere. The BBC is the worst. It has the prime RL challenge cup games but a couple of years ago in the great double header semis at Bolton they never even mentioned it on the sports news that night. Instead they had some coverage of a women’s game of football when England got hammered. Women’s football get better coverage than RL in all the media. It is not good writing about how good the ‘product’ is, the punters need to see it an preferably rammed down their throat as football is. That needs media cooperation and without it RL will get nowhere. There is not much I don’t know about the Euros 2020 even though I do not have the slightest interest in football. That is because the media use the ‘ramming’ technique, where football comes at you from every angle. it is impossible NOT to know about it.

  4. Richardson’ paper is another attempt to offer the extreme in the hope that supporters / club jump at a slightly diluted proposal., exactly what happened with the proposed mergers of the 90s. If anything close to the proposals happen the game will die. It’s boring enough watching St Helens and Wigan play every other week without compounding it further. If we were really untrested in challenging the top so called teams and growing the game then prize monies should be distributed bottom to top to make a fairer playing field.

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