Tony Adams wants football v rugby league match

James Gordon

New RFL president Tony Adams says he’s floating the idea of getting 13 footballers to play against their rugby league counterparts in a half-football, half-rugby league match.

Speaking to the press for the first time since taking on the role, Adams revealed his admiration for the players of the sport, while admitting that his technical knowledge of the game wasn’t the best.

He said: “I’m floating around the idea of getting some footballers up to play against them, like 13 footballers against 13 rugby league players.

“You would have to play football first half because I don’t think we would survive if we had to play rugby league for the first half!

“I’ve got me and Stuart Pearce at the moment, so I’m open to offers!”

A number of footballers have been seen watching live Super League matches, including Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and current England manager Gareth Southgate.

Michael Carrick spent time with Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson ahead of their 2016 World Club Series match at St Helens, while Wayne Rooney has often tweeted about his support for Leeds Rhinos.

Adams had a thinly veiled dig at the lack of aggression in modern football at the top level, and praised the physical nature of rugby league.

He added: “Tony Smith is a good friend of mine and he invited me to a few games and the ball’s in play more than any sport.

“When I started playing football back in the day it was a very physical game and maybe in the top level of football it’s changed a little bit, it’s got a lot more technical. In the lower leagues, it’s still alive and kicking and the tackle is still available.

“There’s plenty of tackles available in rugby league so I kind of like that part!

“The guys are very humble, it’s been great for my charity to have these big humble guys break down in tears in a room with other 23-year-old gambling addict football players.”

On the subject of his knowledge of rugby league, Adams says his focus is on strengthening rugby league’s links with his Sporting Chance charity, and that he doesn’t intend to copy what former England rugby union boss Sir Clive Woodward did when going in at Southampton FC.

He added: “The people is what I’m about. I don’t want to get involved in the technical side of the game.

“I’m not sat here like (Clive) Woodward when he want to Southampton. I don’t claim to be an expert at this sport, it’s not what I’m about, I’m here for profile.

“If I can shed some light on this great sport then I am here to do that. Stuart (Pearce) loves it to bits so I’m going to use him as well in my team to help spread the word.

“I do love their honest, open approach and the physical side of the game and that ball’s always in play, it’s kind of a non-stop sport. I don’t want to say ‘I hate football now and I love rugby league I’m a technical director’, it’s not what I’m about. Player welfare is my main concern.”