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June 2019 n Volume 9 Issue 6

n At Forty20towers, we’ve never been ones for mere cheerleading. Neither #positiverugbyleague nor unremitting pessimists, we like to think of ourselves as realists who care passionately about the game. Constructive criticism is important.

But every so often we all need a reminder of why we fell in love with rugby league in the first place.

On his appointment as coach at Hull KR, 18 months after having left the game jaundiced about its structure and governance, deepthinking Tony Smith appeared to acknowledge exactly that.

“There have been changes going on and some real positivity,” he said, when surprisingly unveiled at the KCOM Stadium with a shortterm brief – initially – to keep the Robins in Super League. “I don’t think it’s wrong to point out the negative situations. When people don’t think things are right they should speak up about them, that’s how you create change.”

So say us, but it’s one reason why, this issue, we look to point out, rather than accentuate, the positive. Strands of good news run through the sport that we haven’t had to look hard to find at all levels.

Not everything in the rugby league garden is rosy and probably never will be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t smell what roses there are.

n If the sport is to appeal to a major broadcaster in 2021, what must it look like? Those sides at the bottom of the table this year give concentrated food for thought.

Can we afford to lose London again, or risk the Hull derby when events are key, or Leeds or Wigan?

Should Super League, with its enhanced deal with Betfred, share club handouts more widely for the greater good next season?

If broadening the top-flight’s appeal improves the prospect of an increase in broadcast money there is a strong case to announce now that Super League will feature 14 teams in 2020 with no relegation

Grasping the opportunity: Championship rivals York and Toulouse would have a better chance of promotion were 14 clubs to make up Super League next season

Blooming splendid n n and two from the Championship promoted (Toronto among them, most likely) rather than one club as at the moment. That would be a win/win for everyone to build on.

n The spring in our step was partpromoted by Catalans’ success in taking a regular season game with Wigan to the Camp Nou, rewarded by a competition record crowd.

Dragons’ president Bernard Guasch put it best when he said: “If some clubs still wonder what the Catalans bring, this will silence the most contemptuous or conservative.

“Wigan and Super League took us for madmen when we submitted our project, Nobody believed it until Ian Lenagan and I went to Camp Nou to meet President Bartomeu.

“It has helped grow the profile of the sport and introduced new audiences to rugby league.” More power to those of similar mind.

n Mid-June sees the international game in the southern hemisphere undergoing continued renaissance.

A World Cup qualifier between South Africa and the Cook Islands, the start of the Oceania Cup and Shield – with New Zealand playing Tonga and Samoa facing PNG – and a Test match for Lebanon and Fiji.

Oh, and Fiji’s women, the PNG Orchids, Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa will also take the field.

Stir in a post-season British Lions tour and the part of the sport that can give most resonance is on the up. Hopefully a similar schedule in the northern hemisphere can follow, with autumn’s Middle East Africa Championships a good start.

n We didn’t make enough of it, but the only sport being played on the eve of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day involved the armed forces in rugby league’s President’s Cup.

Appropriately, the UKAF RL side, magnificently led by Ben ‘Yorkshire Prose’ Taylor, beat an England Universities side 24-20, thanks to a Declan Baines hat-trick.

Head coach Danny Johnson said: “We are really proud to win on such a poignant day.”


Reasons to be cheerful 16 Phil Caplan has plenty of those...

Blake’s heaven


Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile Five Drives & A Kick 7 Rob Elstone’s Super League plan, Liverpool, Blackpool and more The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE reckons State of Origin should point the way Louie the Lip 15 It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook! Match of the Month 18 The London-Leeds showdown Stand Up for League 20 Ian Boldsworth’s Mersey Magic teamsheet

Irvine’s Indigestion 21 Our man Chris tells it like it is Let’s Get Physical 22 Emma Kirke on an Anfield dream Born in the Americas 24 ...and Canada is the epicentre Postcard from Barca 26 John Davidson went to Spain Fax up to challenge 28 Dave Craven reports from Odsal Women off to Bolton 31 Angela Powers signs off

Mantality matters 32 Stevie Ward champions empathy Café des Treizistes 33 Mike Rylance gets a big surprise Footprints go south 36 Anthony Williams hits Sheffield No Helmets Required 42 Gavin Willacy on Nigeria launch Road to RLWC2021 44 Greece advance past Norway Latham’s Loft 46 Mike Latham recalls Buff Berry Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner lifts the trophy!

Maroons take spoils 38 George Clarke enjoys Origin one

June 20193Forty2043

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