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June 2022 n Volume 12 Issue 6

n Almost a first for rugby league – there was universal acclaim for Betfred Challenge Cup final day, with barely a dissenting voice about Tottenham Hotspur as a venue, rewarded with two fabulous games, the details from which can be found within these pages.

TV figures were impressive too, with an average of over 1.1m watching the BBC’s coverage and a peak of 1.5m – biggest audience share of any Cup final since 2008 and the highest peak since 2016.

We are still somewhat behind State of Origin levels though, the first clash of 2022 seeing almost three million tune in and streaming records also broken.

A Video on Demand (BVOD) audience of 425,000 represented a 52 per cent increase on last year, making the showpiece the most streamed event of all time across all broadcasters.

One in every eight people in Australia watched; the equivalent figure in the UK would be around nine million tuning in.

Not surprisingly, on the back of such figures and a warning as regards potential talent drain - the NRL salary cap is to break through the A$10 million barrier next year with players paid more money than at any other time in the code’s history, despite the entrance of a 17th team in the Dolphins.

The NRL is also preparing to raise it incrementally each year during the next broadcast cycle and looking at an incentive scheme to fund clubs commensurate to the amount of work they do in junior development, thereby increasing participation numbers, another issue looked at in this edition.

The New South Wales RL has recently announced that the game is on track for another successful season across the state, with participation numbers officially going past the 100,000 mark in 2022, slightly ahead of the record figures achieved last year.

Guard of honour: James Roby, with 455, moved top of Super League’s appearance charts versus Hull KR

The magic numbers n n n Back to the Challenge Cup, where around 300 children from 19 community clubs nationwide took part in the pre-match parade, following a successful Challenge Cup final Primary RL Festival on the morning of the game at the New River Sports Centre in Haringey, home of London Skolars.

U7s, U9s and U11s age groups made up the festival, with 100 games played during the morning.

Stephen Guan, RFL southern regions development manager, said: “We aimed to give children a fantastic fun playing experience, an opportunity to play teams from outside of their regions, and for all players to improve their skills and experience a positive playing environment. It was a delight to see so many kids with smiles on their faces enjoying the sport.”

Alongside traditional names like Blackbrook Royals of St Helens and Normanton Knights, were West Oxfordshire Levellers from Witney, Shrewsbury Lions and Bristol’s Shine All Golds.

Contrast that with a note from Yorkshire Juniors to their clubs:

“Challenge Cup Weekend is not a free week, if you cannot play you need to postpone or rearrange” and we wonder why the occasion isn’t “like it used to be” or filled with kids in awe. An idiotic stance, it undermines moving back to May.

n Hull KR were awarded an Elite Academy Licence, running until the end of 2027 after an independent accreditation gave their Academy an official rating of ‘Good’.

Hull KR chief executive Paul Lakin noted: “It provides official recognition of all the work and investment we have placed into our academy system.”

n Congratulations RFL president Clare Balding awarded a CBE; Brad Gartland, founder of the Stephen


Sealed with a kiss 18 Wigan snatch the Challenge Cup

McQueen’s moment 5 Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile Five Drives & A Kick 7 Wigan at 150, East Anglia Vipers and Rob Burrow’s whirlwind hit The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE considers the month’s biggest talking points Louie the Lip 15 It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Talent spotting 16 Super League’s young player drain Irvine’s Indigestion 20 Our man ponders old traditions teamsheet

Stand Up for League 22 Ian Boldsworth hails Wigan! Café des Treizistes 25 Springtime for rugby league Lebanon make plans 26 The World Cup edges closer French are coming! 28 Wheelchair Challenge Cup final Priim and Proper 30 Danika Priim’s monthly round-up Championship scene 32 Craig Lingard talks double round

Leigh lift 1895 Cup 34 Centurions bathe in Spurs glory Back to Steel City 37 Sheffield Eagles return home League 1 matters 38 Keighley making big progress Footy20 40 George Clarke’s State of Origin Latham’s Loft 44 Recalling John Player Yearbook League on TV 49 RSW answers questions galore Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner went to London

League revolutionary 21 Goodbye to Maurice Lindsay

June 20223Forty2043

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