While NRL fans look forward to the new season with anything from rabid anticipation down to antipathy, the rest of the spectrum – further on down to paralysing fear – is occupied by their northern hemisphere brethren.
Your correspondent has known for a while that overseas clubs had been asked to stump up roughly half a million pounds if they wanted to play in the Challenge Cup. When Toronto refused, they were kicked out.
Toulouse don’t seem too keen on playing in the world’s oldest knock-out comp anyway but when Catalans baulked at the bond, the merde hit the fan.
You see, Catalans are the current Challenge Cup holders.
At the current time, the Rugby Football League are trying to figure out how to clean up the mess they’ve created.
On Monday night I was listening to a show called Forty20 Live, where they were discussing this terrible state of affairs.
My wife said the show seemed to be full of doom and gloom but I thought it fairly reflected what’s going on in the British game right now: a broke traditional governing body on one side and a club-led breakaway trying to find its footing – things could go either way – on the other.
But the boys lost me when they started making fun of the revived Yorkshire Cup.
I’ll pause. My point here is about rugby league as a whole, not just England, so if you don’t much care for events in the Old Dart, I invite you to keep reading nonetheless.
Even if you don’t care, some context: the Yorkshire Cup ran from 1905 to 1993 when it was swallowed up by the move to summer and Super League.
A group of lower division clubs have revived it, omitting those who voted with Super League when the most recent split in the game happened in November. It’s a pre-season comp played over three weeks, starting last weekend.
The pundits on the show were at pains to point out it wasn’t, as they didn’t say, fair dinkum for any one of a dozen reasons.
My answer to that is: use it or lose it! Rugby league has so many glorious brands and pieces of IP it has tossed away like garbage over the years.
In the modern world of social media and URLs and merchandising, that which the administration of rugby league deems worthless is worth something to somebody.
Whatever the NRL paid Bauer for Rugby League Week’s IP, it wasn’t loose change.
If no money changes hands, if the administration of the sport doesn’t enforce its IP, then clubs or anyone who decides to do it for head office – in whatever way they can muster – deserve congratulations, not criticism.
I’d love to see the KB, Panasonic or Tooth Cup resurrected in the pre-season in Australia – even if it’s just one game.
Like the Yorkshire Cup, I firmly believe the Wikipedia entries for those competitions should be altered to say ‘revived after many decades in recess’. The name has been revived and since no-one else did stuff all, the name is the thing.
If other clubs whinge it’s not the same because they’re not in it – join it! Make it bigger. Don’t bag the people who are trying to honour the game’s past.
The North Sydney Bears, Great Britain Lions, Rothman’s Yearbook, Rugby League Week … I see Controversy Corner was revived last year. Bravo!
Administrators are supposed to be custodians. But things sometimes slip through their grasp. So the responsibility falls to us to be custodians of those things instead.
I never do this but I’ll finish the column with a question to the readers: which “dormant” rugby league brand do you think can, and should, be revived?