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January 2022 n Volume 12 Issue 1

n Welcome to 2022, hopefully a less fraught year on every front. For rugby league, the watchword in the addresses by both Super League interim chair Ken Davy and RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer was “positivity.”

Although there are lingering, real concerns about the effects of the pandemic on society and sport, both stressed that there was much to look forward to – without giving details. Rimmer said: “This is the most optimistic I’ve felt about the sport in some time. We’ve had to think and work together.”

Although not quite able to bring about realignment between the bodies yet (or as Davy called it in his statement, “reunification” – surely some mistake).

n The best news is that France has been awarded the 2025 World Cup, formally announced at a press conference in Paris and fronted by Prime Minister Jean Castex.

He revealed that around ¤40m in government funding has been granted to stage the tournament in over 40 towns and cities, almost 80 years after league’s assets were sequestered, and never returned by a Vichy government in cohort with wartime rugby union.

RLWC2025 was awarded to the United States in 2016, but that plan was scrapped two years later because of financial concerns.

France initiated the World Cup, its first hosts in 1954 and in 1972 staged the tournament once more.

A statement from the French Federation said: “This international event, which has not been organised in France for more than 50 years, will help promote the influence of French sport and is intended to incorporate the entire territory.”

As the World Cup will be in the Northern Hemisphere twice in a row, it’s likely to return down under in 2029, although taking it to the USA remains an option, especially as union is looking at hosting its version in the States in 2031.

Bring it on: Kai Pearce-Paul of Wigan Warriors welcomes a new season at a video and photography shoot SWpix.com

Best foot forward n tonyhannan@forty-20.com philcaplan@forty-20.com n n More good news in the New Year’s Honours where Adam Hills, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Emma Rosewarne were each awarded an MBE. Ralph Rimmer said: “These awards are fitting recognition for three wonderful people who have given so much to the sport.”

And before that, RL Cares announced that Kevin Sinfield OBE had agreed to join their Board of Trustees alongside his position as defence coach for Leicester Tigers, to help shape and enhance the charity’s player welfare provision.

“I always said I’d never leave the sport,” said unnighted Kevin. “It’s given me everything, so it’s really important for me to give something back,”

At the same time, The Steve Prescott Foundation underlined its commitment to the RL Benevolent Fund, donating a further £70,000.

n Not so good news for the RFL and RL Cares is the continuing debacle over the siting of the proposed Rugby League Museum.

Having been unable to come to a promised financial agreement with initial winning bid Bradford Council to renovate City Hall, the same is now unfolding with Kirklees Council, who had agreed to partfund it at its spiritual home, the soon to be renovated George Hotel.

The council leader has been urged to resign after those original plans were axed and an ‘alternative’ unnamed site in the town proposed.

The Liberal Democrats said Shabir Pandor’s leadership was “no longer tenable” after he said the venue was financially unviable and would cost tax-payers over £20m.

In an open letter to council chief executive Jacqui Gedman, the Lib Dems described the authority’s turnaround as “chaotic” and said its reputation had suffered “irreparable harm.” Forty20says sod ‘em, sue ‘em and start the process again.

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Super League XXVII 18 Forty20’s club-by-club guide

Devilish Brodie 5 Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile Five Drives & A Kick 7 Simon Johnson, JJB’s gong, Mike Ratu RIP, Touch RL and more... The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE prepares to get his teeth into a brand new year Louie the Lip 15 It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook! Covid update 16 Nerves for the new campaign Café des Treizistes 22 Mike Rylance talks to Toulouse teamsheet

Stand Up for League 24 Ian Boldsworth is looking ahead Mrs Carter’s Diary 25 Our columnist enjoys fresh air Irvine’s Indigestion 26 Christopher Irvine buckles up New era at Wakefield 27 Peter Smith goes to Belle Vue World Cup latest 30 Samoa go big for RLWC2021 Match of the Month 34 The Hurricanes land – in York!

Priim and Proper 37 Danika Priim’s WSL scene Earning their Spurs 38 The Challenge Cup is back! Footy20 40 George Clarke from down under Brazil’s Grand Final 42 A postcard from Sao Paulo Latham’s Loft 44 Mike peels the grapes of wrath! League on TV 48 Corriehas a new RL character Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner has phone issues

Championship ahoy! 32 Craig Lingard goes club-by-club

January 20223Forty2043

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