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January 2013 Volume 3 Issue 1

Ready for lift-off

Nervous? Here we are at the start of a season that no less a personage than RFL CEO Nigel Wood described in his New Year’s address as: “Rugby league’s most important year since Super League began.”

Not only will the top-flight competition come of age - can it be 18 already, doesn’t time fly? - there are mammoth changes taking place in the Championships and the UK’s first RL World Cup since 2000 is tagged on the end of the campaign.

Much is being made of that tournament as the “next international sporting event to be held in the UK after the 2012 Olympics” and a lastgasp chance to win over an apathetic nation. Well, we don’t know what Andy Murray and Co would make of that proud boast at Wimbledon, but there’s no doubt that we are indeed about to embark upon a truly pivotal moment in rugby league history.

Trouble is - and without being professional miserablists about this with so many flies in the ointment at the mo, it really could go either way. Look in the library, mongers of doom have predicted the demise of this sport since Albert Goldthorpe first pulled on a boyt in t’ Northern Union. But the reality is that the 13-a-side code has rarely been as beleagured as it is at the start of 2013.

We don’t intend to reheat all of those problems here - financial strife, lack of sponsorships and advertisers, an impractical competition structure, leadership, cack-handed spin and salary cap issues among them - let’s tonyhannan@forty-20.com philcaplan@forty-20.com just look forward to the action for a while. But you can rest assured that as the season advances, the heat will rise and Forty-20will be there every step of the way, insisting that those charged with running this great game at least stay honest with the people who matter - the players and fans.

We’ll hand out praise when it’s appropriate too, of course, and how encouraging it is to hear that the RFL is to get involved in securing the future of the game’s birthplace, the George Hotel in Huddersfield. Bailiffs were at the door recently, when the owners of the Grade II listed building again went into administration.

Happily, Stevo’s Heritage Centre is unaffected with the artefacts safely under lock and key. And there are, of course, financial obstacles. But the George would not only be the kind of grandiose, well-located HQ the sport needs, it would be ideal for celebrating 120 years of foundation in 2015.

The UK honours system has its critics, but if there has to be one then we can think of no more deserved a recipient than Paul Sculthorpe MBE.

Scully became the latest rugby league personage to be awarded a gong in the Queen’s New Year’s list, the 35-year-old former GB, St Helens and Warrington star gaining recognition for his achievements as a player and unstinting charity work.

Quoth Nigel Wood: “Paul was the consummate professional and role model [who] has continued to be an outstanding ambassador for the sport.” Amen to that.

How the other half live, part II. While the RFL looks increasingly like being sponsored by hen’s teeth, the Aussies have capped a recordbreaking year with another huge deal. Car giant Holden, one of Australia’s biggest brands, has agreed a $5 million annual sponsorship deal as naming rights sponsor of State of Origin and the Australian Kangaroos.

It will be the second biggest sponsorship deal in rugby league history, after the recently announced $100 million five-year partnership with Telstra. The ARLC is also hopeful of quickly finding a successor to Bundaberg Rum, former backers of Monday Night Football.

Neat sidestep down under, where Manly issued a press release claiming they were to dump their own name for the next three seasons. The club said it was extending its corporate teamsheet

Inside the alternative voice of rugby league

Kevin Sinfield

The Angela Powers Interview

14

Articles

5 The Mad Butcher

Andy Wilson’s monthly profile 20 Huddersfield in camp

James Coldman on a recce 32 Championships are go

Gareth Walker previews 2013 36 Arrested development

Sport England cuts hit hard 40 World Cup Countdown

Mike Rylance looks at France

Columns

12 The Reality is...

Brian Noble: club-by-club 19 Married to League 23 Louie’s Lip 26 Richard Mathers 30 Paul Cooke 42 Irvine’s Indigestion

Postcards

18 Leeds 34 London 38 Sydney

Interviews

22 Jon Wilkin 26 Nick Fozzard 29 Ben Westwood

The Culture

43 Spreading the word

John Ledger talks RFL media 45 The pits of Rochdale

Dave Hadfield’s RL pub guide

Birthplace: The RFL is searching for a way to save Huddersfield’s George Hotel for rugby league posterity SWPix.com

Save our Salford 24 Gaz Shaw on the City Reds saga

January 2013 Forty-20 3

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