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September 2018 n Volume 8 Issue 9

n Why would anyone buy an advanced ticket for a rugby league event? It turned out that ‘Plan B’ for Catalans’ historic win at Wembley and the first time the Challenge Cup has left these shores for 121 years, was to move any fans in the upper tiers down into line of camera sight, discount tickets so that those who pre-paid £50 were sat next to ones who’d been offered them for a third less (never mind loyalty) or give them away – remember Stobart?

We have long known there are issues with the grand old knockout competition, such as the date of the final - how do you attract the next generation of fans if it’s in the summer school holidays?

Yet what this year proved via the superb coverage in the press and on the BBC – not to mention the successful Bolton doubleheader semi-finals, was that with enthusiastic year-round marketing an historic and much needed jewel in league’s national crown has life in it yet, just about. A reboot can’t come soon enough, however.

Maybe that explains the lack of details of how to book for 2019.

Still, the Hearns were there as guests and seemed to enjoy it.

n Wembley would also have been a good place to distribute leaflets for the autumn Test series.

After all, it will be two years since England last played at home.

Fortunately they weren’t, as the date of the Anfield Test was changed to Sunday 4 November soon after, tickets having gone on sale and hotels booked for some.

Everton FC are playing at the same time across Stanley Park and all bow to the great god soccer.

n The issues go deeper. A week after the Challenge Cup final, the RFL closed its offices in London and no longer has any commercial or media presence in the capital.

The London Foundation under excellent but now-departed Dan

Plenty there to market: Tommy Makinson is tackled by Wigan’s John Bateman during last month’s pulsating Super8s derby

We’ll need a road map n n

Steel, brought in to primarily hold the community game together in the absence of development officers, is now barely existing.

The Rugby League European Federation also worked out of that office and had a registered address in Paris, both gone, as it seems are fixtures for Catalans U19s.

More woe: the three-year plan for Tests in Colorado was sunk when promoters Moore Sports failed to pay the final tranche of monies to the RFL and NZRL – both desperate for cash – for the June game.

In its place for the Kiwis will be a much anticipated grudge match with Tonga after their sensational clash in last year’s World Cup, won 28-22 by the Mate Ma’a. Where that leaves England in the midseason window however is unclear.

The Kiwis will also face Australia at home for the first time in four years as part of a triple-header at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday 13 October (Grand Final day here), with the Junior Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns also playing cross-Tasman fixtures.

Denver’s due diligence debacle also raises doubts over RLWC2025 with fears that it will not now go ahead in the USA and Canada.

The RLIF conditionally awarded the event to the same promoter,

Moore Sports International, who were bullish about setting up an eight-team pro league in advance.

“MSI was awarded the 2025 World Cup subject to appropriate guarantees and finalisation of a staging agreement,” RLIF chairman John Grant said. “When we have greater clarity on MSI’s position we will know whether we have to deal with anything or not. We’ll wait until things become clear.”

However, the RLIF has not yet been able to contact Jason Moore, Grant adding: “There are always contingency plans.”

n We at Forty20Towers – now with added TV via our facebook page – find it hard to reconcile the direction of the sport just now.

Rather than face up to issues of participation, profile and profit, the focus is on expediency of


Catalans do it for France 22 Peter Smith saw Wembley history

Tony Gigot


Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile Five Drives & A Kick 7 Reports from Bradford, Glasgow and Newcastle’s World Cup bid The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE has his fingers crossed for Canadian promotion Louie the Lip 15 It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Giant improvement 16 John Davidson visits Huddersfield Irvine’s Indigestion 18 Chris Irvine on changing times teamsheet

Stand Up for League 21 Ian Boldsworth goes bowling Mantality Matters 27 Stevie Ward on the Qualifiers Café des Treizistes 28 Mike Rylance on a crucial year Championship chat 29 Liam Claffey puts it in context Leon’s League 1 31 Leon Pryce on more change No Helmets Required 33 Gavin Willacy’s big city dreams

Latham’s Loft


Rembering a famous referee Women of Origin 37 The Angela Powers column Footy20 38 Steve Deane on Women’s NRL My PDRL 41 Emma Kirke files from Sydney Europeans in league 45 Wrapping up the U19 Euros The Great Sacrifice 46 Rugby league’s roll of honour Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner rounds it all up

Road to RLWC2021 42 Germany and Greece stride on

September 20183Forty2043

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